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DPH announces new COVID-19 guidelines allowing visitation at long-term care facilities

Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Governor Ned Lamont and the Department of Public Health have released new COVID-19 guidelines for visitation at long-term care facilities.

The newly issued directive, which is from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) Acting Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford MD MPH, rescinds the previously issued orders that limited visitation at those long-term care facilities, which included nursing homes.

RELATED: Some families thrilled with DPH’s new COVID-19 guidelines allowing visitation at nursing homes, others say they don’t go far enough

Those orders were issued to protect the residents from the COVID-19 pandemic, but as of Monday, the new guidelines mean that long-term care facilities in the state are permitted to resume indoor visitation effective immediately, provided that certain conditions are met.

Those conditions, according to the DPH, include “that there has been no new onset of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days and the facility is not currently conducting outbreak testing. Indoor visitation will be suspended if there is a positive COVID case among staff or residents.”

Facilities and visitors also must adhere to the following conditions:

  • Screening for all who enter the facility;
  • Hand hygiene recommendations;
  • Personal protection equipment as applicable;
  • Social distancing requirements;
  • Instructional signage throughout the facility;
  • Cleaning and disinfecting high frequency touched surfaces in the facility;
  • Effective cohorting of residents as applicable;
  • Visitors should be able to adhere to the core principles and staff should provide monitoring for those who may have difficulty adhering to core principles;
  • Facilities should limit the number of visitors per patient at one time and limit the total number of visitors in the facility one at a time (based on the size of the building and physical space).
  • Facilities should consider scheduling visits for a specified length of time to help ensure all patients are able to receive visitors; and
  • Facilities should limit movement in the facility. For example, visitors should not walk around different halls of the facility. Rather, they should go directly to the patient’s room or designated visitation area.

Governor Lamont released the following statement on the new guidelines:

“Making the decision to limit in-person visits at nursing homes is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as governor, but amid the outbreak of this pandemic that is impacting the lives of so many people in our senior population, I knew it was the right thing to do. Each facility is strongly urged to develop a visitation plan and strictly adhere to it to the greatest extent possible so that we can keep this virus from spreading and impacting our most vulnerable patients.”

Governor Ned Lamont

Acting DPH Commissioner Gifford also released a statement:

“With this new guidance from the federal government, indoor visitation is now allowed in nursing homes under specific conditions. I urge nursing homes to work closely with family members to arrange for the type of visitation that is most appropriate for each resident’s physical, mental and psychosocial wellbeing. There will be protocols in place to make sure the visitation is as safe as possible, including personal protective equipment to limit the spread of COVID-19 among our most vulnerable population.”

Acting DPH Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford, MD MPH

You can read the full release on the new guidelines from the DPH below:

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