A nursing-home resident in Kirkland, Wash., who had tested positive for the coronavirus, blew a kiss to her son-in-law and daughter early in the pandemic. (Photo by Ted Warren, The Associated Press)
By Melissa Patrick
CMS said it was relaxing its indoor visitation rules in response to “significant reductions” in infections and transmissions resulting from infection control practices and high vaccination rates in such facilities.
Visits won’t begin right away.
“2020 was a dark time for our most vulnerable population in isolation from their friends and daily activities and we are glad we are able to lift restrictions safely,” said Betsy Johnson, president of the group.
As of Feb. 1, more than 70 % of nursing-home residents and 45% of employees had been vaccinated as part of the federal program, according to data from the state. The numbers did not reflect employees that may have been vaccinated elsewhere.
Coronavirus cases in long-term care facilities hit their peak in mid-December, just as residents began getting the Covid-19 vaccine, with 4,133 cases on Dec. 11, according to an analysis by the Lexington Herald-Leader. Since, cases have plummeted, with only 264 active cases reported on Wednesday.
Nursing home advocates have long been calling for nursing-home residents to have visitors, saying that the isolation they have experienced has been devastating.
“At this point, residents are becoming more likely to die of isolation and neglect than covid,” Jocelyn Bogdan, program and policy specialist at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, told Kaiser Health News for a March 4 article about the pleas of advocates for federal officials to open up visitation in these facilities.
The guidelines also address the continued need for testing and how to manage visitation if a new case of the coronavirus is identified.
Beshear has noted several times that his administration has been waiting on these guidelines in order to relax visitation in Medicare-certified nursing homes.
In mid-February, the state relaxed some of the visitation restrictions at assisted-living homes, personal-care homes, intermediate-care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and independent-living facilities whose residents are fully vaccinated to allow “group activities, communal dining and visitation among vaccinated residents.”