On September 17th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a memo to the states, restoring visitation in nursing homes. CMS is requiring facilities to permit visitation whenever a facility has had no new COVID outbreaks for 14 days and the community positivity rate is less than 10%. Facilities required to permit visitation are encouraged to have outdoor visitation, weather permitting, but are also required to accommodate indoor visitation, including in resident rooms, when outdoor visits are unavailable.
Facilities are encouraged to implement a number of protective measures during visits, namely visitor screening and social distancing. Facilities are even encouraged to test visitors for COVID. But the bottom line is that facilities may only restrict visitor access when the community positivity rate is greater than 10%, the facility has an active COVID outbreak or had a new case within the last 14 days, or the visitor has symptoms or fails to follow infection control protocols. Even in those situations, facilities cannot restrict visitation, unless it has a “reasonable clinical or safety cause” and in California, all nursing homes are required to permit outdoor visitation, no excuses.
The memo also expands the concept of compassionate care visits, which can take place despite facility COVID outbreaks and community positivity rates, and makes federal funds available for supplies needed to accommodate safe visitation.
CMS’s memo is loaded with language to support visitation in nursing homes and includes mandates eradicating the terrible 6-month visitation ban that has broken the hearts of a million families. Visitation is back in nursing homes! If you know of any holdouts that continue to bar visitation in California, please contact CANHR.