New nursing home visitation guidelines to go into effect Friday
New guidelines will be go into effect Friday regarding nursing home visitation in New York.
Testing will not be required in counties with a positivity rate lower than 5%, though it will still be encouraged. Testing will be required for visitors in counties with a positivity rate between 5% and 10%. Regular visitation will not be allowed in counties with a rate over 10%. Visits will be limited to 20% of a nursing home's residents at any one time.
They are recommending rapid COVID-19 testing before visitors can enter a nursing home. The state health department will be providing the rapid-testing resources to nursing homes. Currently nursing home visitation rules require a facility to go at least 14 days without a new COVID-19 case before allowing visits, and visitors must also present a negative COVID-19 test result from within seven days before entry.
Owners and operators of nursing homes say they are now getting themselves ready for the new rules. "The next step is receiving the proper guidance so we do this appropriately safely and according to mandates," says CEO of Gurwin Healthcare System CEO Stuart Almer.
Family members say they are anxiously awaiting to hear the all the new guidelines so they can get through the door and to their loved ones. "It gives me hope that I'll be able to see my mom again. Just the idea that I will be able to see her again and potentially hug her and tell her how much I love her," says Joyce O'Brien, of Northport.
Barbara McKay and her family have endured signs, masks, and windows all separating her from seeing her dad, Thomas Gary. He's in a Bronx nursing home.
"We're losing time," McKay said. "Precious time that we won't get back."
The former New York City bus driver has dementia and Alzheimer's. In the spring, he got the coronavirus.
"He could not understand why we couldn't come in. We always bring him his coffee," McKay said. "We had a lot of trouble explaining that he couldn't come around to get it."
McKay says safety must be prioritized, and she and her family will do whatever it takes to safely see Gary.
The move to ease restrictions comes as investigations are now underway into the number of COVID-19 deaths in New York's nursing homes, and a possible cover up of those numbers by the Cuomo administration.