CMS Guidelines for Nursing Home Visits Post-COVID

It goes without saying that patients at nursing homes and other long term care facilities are at the most risk for a potential COVID infection. This is why as the states start to lift stay at home orders, the federal government is asking that governors move forward with extreme precautions before allowing visitors to these centers. 

Guidance from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) suggest that nursing homes should not even start down the path of allowing visitors until all current residents and staff at a facility have had baselines COVID testing to ensure there are no known cases.  It is also being recommended that staff be tested weekly and all residents should be tested again if any resident in the facility has a COVID-like symptom or any employee or staff member tests positive for COVID. 

CMS has announced certain recommendations that are strongly encouraged to be followed before visits resume, as follows:  

  • There should be no new cases for 28 days 
  • Must be adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning, and disinfection materials 
  • Must have adequate staffing, with no shortages 
  • Local hospitals must have enough beds to take care of any residents who need to be transferred there
  • Limit group activities that are common in nursing homes unless there is social distancing 
  • If dining room is going to be used, residents must sit 6 feet apart 
  • Visitors are recommended to follow social-distancing guidelines
  • Visitors must wash their hands and use sanitizer
  • Visitors are strongly recommended to wear a face covering throughout  their visit 
  • Visitors should be screened before entering the nursing home
    • Screenings should include temperature checks and questions about possible symptoms and exposures 

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