CMS Guidelines for Nursing Home Visitation Amid COVID-19

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on March 5, 2021 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on April 24, 2024

elderly woman in mask at windowAs COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out, nursing home efforts continue to reduce the spread of infection. However, the ongoing separation from family and friends has severely impacted the mental health conditions of many residents living in long-term care.

PKSD shares some key guidelines issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to help nursing home facilities safely reinstate in-person visitation to help address the psychosocial needs of residents.

Why Visitation Needs to Be Reinstated

Many nursing home residents who have been unable to see family or friends in person for several months have suffered emotionally, mentally and physically. AARP reported that since January 2020, there have been 112,300 nursing deaths due to the coronavirus. But there have also been tens of thousands more excess deaths caused by other medical conditions, especially Alzheimer and dementia patients, as a direct impact of the ongoing isolation.

When Nursing Home Visitation May Be Reinstated

Since COVID-19 vaccines first began rolling out at the end of December, Wisconsin nursing homes have already seen a significant drop in the number of new cases. According to the Milwaukee Sentinel, as of the third week of February 2021, new cases had dropped 97 percent.

The CMS guidelines for reinstating in-person nursing home visitation was initially issued as far back as September 17, 2020 and states that a resident must be permitted to receive in-person visitation from family and friends if:

  • The resident is not newly admitted or readmitted in the last 14 days or less
  • The assisted living facility, nursing home or other long-term care facility has not had any new cases of COVID-19 in a 14-day period
  • The facility is located in a county where the positivity rate is determined to be either low (green) or medium (yellow)

In-person visitation must also be reinstated for a newly admitted or readmitted resident after they have completed the minimum requirement of 14 days in quarantine.

Key Guidelines for Safely Reinstating In-Person Nursing Home Visits

The CMS guidelines issued on September 17, 2020 supersede all previous memos issued and include, but are not limited to:

  • All visitors to the facility must be screened prior to entry with temperature checks – and checking for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19
  • Visitors will be required to followed proper hand hygiene – such as the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Properly-worn mask coverings are mandatory for all visitors
  • Social distancing – six feet or more – is also required
  • The facility must properly and regularly disinfect frequently-touched surfaces as well as any designated visitation areas

Visitors showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who fail to follow the guidelines may be denied entry to the facility for the safety of others.

CMS Warning

CMS notified long-term care facilities that a failure to follow these guidelines and take steps to reinstate in-person visitation for residents – without evidence that it was clinically necessary – will be considered a violation. Nursing homes who are assessed with a violation under 42 CR 483.10(f)(4), may receive citations and other penalties or enforcement actions. Compassionate care visits are a valid exception to these guidelines.

Contact PKSD For Legal Help You Can Trust

If your loved one’s nursing home has not yet implemented in-person visitation, we recommend that you contact the facility administrators to get more information about when you may be able to visit.

If your loved one has suffered injuries due to the gross negligence or willful misconduct of a caregiver or nursing home, our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys in Wisconsin are ready to help. Call our law offices to schedule your free, no-obligation case review today.

FREE Case Review. 414-333-3333

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