CMS Issues Clarification of its Most Recent Visitation Guidelines
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has provided multiple updates and instructions to nursing homes throughout the pandemic. These updates have included requirements to help improve infection control, along with ongoing changes to visitation guidelines.
PKSD shares highlights from the latest CMS update. This newest information clarifies key points of the CMS visitation guidelines previously issued on November 12, 2021.
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Background of CMS Previously Issued Guidelines
Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, nursing homes have remained the population hardest hit by COVID-19. Per the latest data report, there have been 902,964 residents with confirmed cases of COVID and 147,168 resident deaths. Of the staff, there have been 953,731 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,265 deaths.
Throughout the pandemic, CMS has issued multiple guidelines and recommendations to help nursing homes improve infection control. These recommendations covered:
- COVID-19 infection prevention
- Hand hygiene best practices
- Appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Required testing of residents and staff
- CDC guideline for social distancing
- Visitation guidelines
Recap of Visitation Guidelines
Visitation guidelines have been modified on multiple occasions. Early on in the pandemic, CMS imposed nursing home visitation bans, keeping away both family members and non-essential staff. These restrictive bans, though necessary, created a significant hardship for residents. While isolated from loved ones, many fell into depression, struggling with anxiety and severe emotional distress. Residents, who were already struggling with mental health disorders, such as Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia, quickly deteriorated.
After realizing the emotional challenges caused by a full visitation ban, CMS cautiously began reinstating visitation in phases.
November 2021 Nursing Home Visitation Updates
By November 12, 2021, residents regained full visitation. CMS released a statement announcing plans to discontinue all visitation bans. Thanks to vaccinations and better infection control, they feel restricting residents’ right to visitation is no longer necessary. CMS will, however, continue to monitor vaccination and infection rates, especially with regard to newer variants of the virus.
What Has Changed in the Most Recent Updates From CMS?
In its latest update, CMS clarifies visitation guidelines, but does not try to go over every aspect of visitation. Primarily, CMS wants to ensure that all nursing homes fully restore visitation to residents in their care. In doing so, CMS also instructs nursing homes to continue to follow these key requirements:
- Adhere to previously issued principles for infection control – especially for effective hand hygiene, wearing properly-fitted face masks and practicing physical distancing.
- Do not allow or schedule large gatherings – especially where infection prevention, such as physical distancing, is not possible.
- Cooperate with your local and state health departments if any further outbreaks occur
Requirements may vary slightly from state to state. Some states may require nursing homes to use additional safety measures. For instance, instead of allowing various types of cloth masks, some states may require visitors to wear approved N-95 or KN95 masks. Both families and nursing homes should communicate and work with state and local officials to be sure they comply.
Turn to PKSD When You Need a Law Firm You Can Trust
Our law firm has extensive experience and a team of qualified attorneys who are dedicated to helping those injured by the negligence of others. If you are concerned about the well-being of your elderly loved one in a nursing home, we are prepared to help.
Contact PKSD to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our nursing home abuse lawyers based in Wisconsin. If we represent you, there is nothing for you to pay up front. We only get paid if we recover compensation for you.
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