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Alabama Nursing Home Association: Federal rules limit visitors, won’t follow state changes

Alabama Nursing Home Association

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Posted: Mar 4, 2021 12:03 PM

A piece of Gov. Kay Ivey’s extended coronavirus-related Safer At Home order announced Thursday may not be allowed by the federal government.

Ivey’s extension through April 9 called for an immediate slight increase in the number of caregivers and visitors allowed in Alabama hospitals and nursing homes. (Read more about the order's changes HERE)

“Subject to reasonable restrictions, patients and residents will be allowed visits from as many as two caregivers (up from one) or as many as two visitors (up from one) at a time,” the order states.

But judging by a statement from the Alabama Nursing Home Association, Ivey may not be able to change rules in nursing homes.

That statement included:

Despite the drop in cases and vaccine rollout in Alabama and nationwide, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not revised its visitation restrictions. Nursing homes must continue to follow the CMS visitation guidance issued September 17, 2020. Failure to follow the guidance can result in penalties for the nursing home.

“We appreciate Governor Ivey and Dr. Harris for continuing to work with nursing homes and helping us open visitation for our residents and families. We know how important it is for nursing home residents to be able to visit their loved ones in-person and have been working to reopen our doors since CMS first restricted visitation in March 2020. We hope the federal government will soon review and revise the guidance in light of the declining cases and vaccine uptake. Until then, we are encouraging our members to hold in-person visits as long as the nursing home can meet the federal requirements,” Farmer said.

The federal guidance states nursing homes must meet the following criteria to allow limited indoor visitation:

Have no new onset of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days and not be currently conducting outbreak testing.

Limit the number of visitors per resident, limit the number of visitors in the building at one time and limit visitors’ movement inside the building.

Visitors must wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose and practice social distancing while visiting their loved one during their entire visit.

Even if the nursing home meets these criteria, it can’t allow indoor visitation if the county COVID-19 positivity rate is greater than 10%.

CMS allows nursing homes to require additional infection control measures such as COVID-19 testing or proof of a recent negative test.

The public can visit for an easy-to-understand guide for facility visits.

Stay with WAAY 31 for updates

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