Can Nursing Homes Restrict My Visitations?
Residents of Nevada have made enormous sacrifices to slow the spread of COVID-19. The need to protect vulnerable elders in nursing homes and hospital patients was identified at the beginning of the pandemic and federal measures were put in place by regulatory agencies and facilities to restrict entry to only essential personnel.
In most recent months, restrictions on visitation have eased and family members have been allowed to visit their loved ones. The DHHS (Department Of Health and Human Services) and the HCQC (Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance) are responsible for determining what is compliant or non-compliant with federal guidelines and regulations, including State regulations.
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Are Visitors Currently Prohibited In Nursing Home Facilities Due To Covid-19?
The simple answer is no.
Visitation was still restricted under CMS rules, however, they were revised on December 11th, 2021. Since the release of the initial CMS rules on September 17th, 2020, vaccines against the COVID-19 virus have been fully approved by the FDA to be used. Since then, millions of vaccines have been administered to nursing home elderly residents and staff members. These vaccines have been shown to help prevent symptoms from COVID-19 infection. Additionally, CMS is requiring nursing home facilities to teach residents and staff members about the benefits and risks of the vaccines.
CMS along with the CDC has updated its visitation guidance, but still maintaining infection prevention practices.
What Are The Vaccination Rates Among Nursing Home Residents In Nevada?
The following data is from AARP (Updated as of Dec 16th):
The Percentage of Nevada Nursing Home Residents Fully Vaccinated & Booster = 26.4%
Percentage of Nevada Nursing Home Residents Fully Vaccinated = 75.7%
The Percentage of Nevada Health Care Staff Fully Vaccinated & Booster = 22.6%
Percentage of Nevada Health Care Staff Fully Vaccinated = 78.4%
What Kind Of Visits Are Allowed In Nursing Homes?
Visitors are allowed to schedule indoor or outdoor visits. There may still be some restrictions for those residents who are in quarantine, or have a positive COVID-19 status, or are unvaccinated. Visitors will still be screened upon their arrival and must practice social distancing and wear masks.
Visitations to nursing homes can be done in different ways, depending on the facility’s structure and the needs of the residents, such as indoors (resident’s rooms) or outdoors (dedicated visitation spaces).
Nursing home facilities are obligated to allow indoor visitations at all times and for every resident as allowed by these new regulations. While previously facilities were limiting the length and frequency of visits for residents, the number of visitors, and advance scheduling, this is no longer in place.
Even if there is no limit to the number of visitors for each resident at a time anymore, these visits should be conducted in a way that is adhered to COVID-19 infection prevention guidelines and doesn’t increase the risk of infection to other residents.
Nursing homes should still make sure social distancing is in place during peak times, such as lunchtime. Additionally, nursing homes should avoid events, parties, and other large gatherings where large amounts of visitors are in the same place.
If in the case that the nursing home’s county is experiencing a high level of COVID-19 transmission, all residents and visitors should wear face masks and social distance, regardless of their vaccination status.
Indoor Visitation During an Outbreak
Even during an outbreak of COVID-19, a nursing home can’t restrict visitation for every resident as long as there is evidence that the COVID-19 transmission is contained to a single unit of the facility.
However, every time a new case of COVID-19 is detected among the residents or staff members, the nursing home should immediately begin testing and suspend visitations until at least one round of testing is done. Visitation can be resumed when the initial round of outbreak testing shows no additional positive cases. However, visitations should still be suspended at the affected unit.
Visitations done outdoors are preferred whenever a resident or a visitor is not fully vaccinated. Outdoor visits pose a lower risk of transmission because of increased airflow and space. For outdoor visits, nursing homes should create safe and accessible outdoor spaces, such as patios or courtyards. However, inclement weather or poor air quality may hinder these visits.
When operating outdoor visitations, all infection prevention practices should still be followed.
Are Compassionate Care Visits Allowed?
Compassionate care visits, such as a resident in decline or distress, or an end-of-life situation are allowed at all times for any vaccinated or unvaccinated resident. Additionally, nursing homes and visitors should still continue all infection control and prevention practices.
Are Visitors Not Allowed In Hospitals Due To COVID-19 Under Nevada Emergency Directives?
The short answer is no. The decisions on restrictions and admission on visitors are made by hospitals in compliance with CDC and CMS federal guidelines. At the beginning of the pandemic, Nevada hospitals established restrictions limiting visitors in order to protect the safety and health of patients and medical personnel and slow the spread of COVID-19.
As of May 28, 2020, the NHA (Nevada Hospital Association) resumed limited visitation policies for patients who don’t have COVID-19 under which family and friends are allowed to visit loved ones under certain safety measures.
Each member hospital of the NHA has its respective safety measures and policies, and they may be more restrictive or different, depending on the facility. Safety measures for visitors can include the following:
- Wearing a mask at all times
- Observing hand hygiene
- Conducting health screenings upon entry
- Limiting the number of visitors
- Limiting the visiting hours
- Strict social distancing
Protecting Elderly Rights
Families and residents are pleased that the CMS took a person-centered approach to expand visitations allowing them to exercise their rights and avoid the isolation and other challenges that so many have experienced during the past several months of the pandemic.
Sadly, not all nursing homes had our elderly population’s best interests at heart. Many residents suffered from abuse and neglect at the hands of their caregivers during this pandemic. Elder abuse may have grown in the past several months, as the pandemic took a toll on everybody.
When your loved one is on the receiving end of neglect and abuse, the situation requires you to contact a Las Vegas nursing home abuse attorney.
If you suspect your loved one is being abused at their nursing home facility, it is imperative you act quickly. If you believe they are in imminent danger, call the authorities and one of our elderly abuse lawyers.
Nursing Home Attorneys in Las Vegas
If you’re having issues regarding visitation rights at a nursing home, please view and download the PDF here for personal use.
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