Long-awaited, tear-filled, joyful reunions will soon be happening at local nursing homes. New York State has relaxed nursing home visitation guidelines. But for most facilities, that doesn't mean the doors will immediately swing open.
"We have reached out to Department of Health officials today for further clarification on their expectations for a re-opening timeframe. They understand that it will take facilities some time to prepare for visitation as each facility must update policies and procedures as well as update their NY Forward Plan which needs to be submitted to them prior to opening. In addition, there is a vast amount of instructional signage that must be present on campus for visitors to review when they come to visit. This signage needs to be made and printed," says Brenda Cobane, VP of Long Term Care Services for Sitrin Healthcare Center, in New Hartford. "Therefore, our goal is to open sometime late next week (date to be announced no later than next Tuesday).
Similarly, the Masonic Care Community, in Utica, plans to resume visitation next week.
"We anticipate that we will be opening up for in-person visitation the week of March 29th and we will notify families when they can schedule visits with their loved ones," says a message on the facility's website.
"The big change with the guidelines is, it's allowing us to visit even under the definition of an outbreak," says Jim Enos, Director of Social Work for Utica Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, in Utica "If there's a positive staff person, we just have to stop visits for a few days until the next cycle of our weekly...all of our residents get tested weekly. Once they're all negative, then we can resume again.....rather than two weeks, four week time frames, we're talking days, possibly."
Enos is quick to point out, COVID hasn't gone away, and there are still rules and guidelines.
"Visitation here is in a designated area that is cleaned in between visits, sanitized," says Enos. "Our policy is, we're doing rapid testing on our families before the visit occurs."
Utica Rehabilitation and Nursing Center met the prior criteria, and has been conducting visits for about a week.