HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has rescinded emergency orders that had banned most visits at nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the state’s Health Department issued new relaxed guidelines.
The move will allow indoor visits to resume with certain conditions on screening, social distancing and hygiene.
Acting Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford says the conditions include limiting visitors to one per patient at a time and are based on new guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. They also allow increased access to nursing homes for health care workers, social workers, clerics, hairdressers and volunteers.
“Making the decision to limit in-person visits at nursing homes is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as governor, but amid the outbreak of this pandemic that is impacting the lives of so many people in our senior population, I knew it was the right thing to do,” Lamont said in a statement. “Each facility is strongly urged to develop a visitation plan and strictly adhere to it to the greatest extent possible so that we can keep this virus from spreading and impacting our most vulnerable patients.”
The new visitation guidelines also allow increased access to nursing homes for health care workers, social workers, clerics, hairdressers and volunteers.
Representatives of the state’s nursing home industry as well as advocates for nursing home residents applauded the move, noting it was important for the emotional health of the residents. Lamont first barred indoor visits in mid-March to prevent spread. To date, nearly 2,900 of the state’s COVID-associated deaths were nursing home residents. But recent statistics released by Lamont’s office have shown an overall sharp decline in the number of positive cases and deaths.
“Families have clearly expressed the importance of in-person visitation to the well-being of their loved ones. These rules go a long way to addressing their concerns,” said a coalition of advocacy groups in a statement. The group said they plan to work with DPH and the state’s Longterm Care Ombudsman to make sure facilities fully comply with the new rules.