On March 10, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid updated its guidelines for indoor, in-person visits with nursing home residents.
Under the updated guidelines, skilled nursing facilities should allow indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of the vaccination status of the resident, or visitor, unless the following situations exist:
- If the county COVID-19 positivity rate is greater than 10% and less than 70% of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated;
- A resident, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, has a confirmed COVID-19 infection, until the resident has satisfied the precautions according to Medicare and Medicaid guidelines; or
- A resident is in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met the criteria for release from quarantine.
The updated guidelines also emphasize that “compassionate care” visits should be allowed at all times, regardless of a resident’s vaccination status, the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate, or a COVID-19 outbreak in a facility.
“Compassionate care” visits include visits for a resident whose health has sharply declined, who is in distress (i.e., new or more severe depression; cessation of eating/drinking), or who is experiencing a significant change in circumstances, such as a transition to hospice care.
If a resident has been fully vaccinated, the guidelines state a resident can choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor while wearing a well-fitted facemask.
Even if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs, the guidelines advise that a facility should not restrict visitation for all residents as long as there is evidence the transmission of COVID-19 is contained to a single area.
Physical distancing (at least six feet between people), wearing of well-fitted masks, and hand-washing are still recommended regardless of the eased restrictions.
The elder law attorneys in St. Louis and Clayton, MO at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. can answer your questions and provide up-to-date information on Medicare, Medicaid, and nursing home issues related to COVID-19, planning and paying for nursing home care, and other elder law issues. Call today to make an appointment.