New York Health Department allows nursing home visits after feds release new guidance

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Window visits may soon be a thing of the past for nursing homes. New York’s Department of Health (DOH) issued a notice on Tuesday that they are adopting new guidance on nursing home visitation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). The updated federal guidelines were released on Friday and include more permissive visitation policies.

Since the onset of the pandemic, nursing facilities like Fort Hudson Health System in Fort Edward have had to mostly keep visitors out. Now under new guidance adopted by the New York State Department of Health, they are able to welcome them back in.

“It really opens the way for visitation to get closer to a normal activity just as the rest of the communities are having normal activities,” says CEO of Fort Hudson Health System Andy Cruickshank.  

Under the updated guidance, nursing facilities will not be able to limit the number of people visiting a resident, nor will they be able to limit the duration of the visit. In a statement, the New York Department of Health says, “while this is technical guidance on visitation directly from the CMS, the best way to protect our loved ones and ensure we can visit them in a nursing home is to get vaccinated.”

Cruickshank says visitors of Fort Hudson Health System says visitors will still be subject to COVID screenings to reduce community transmission. Cruickshank credits the facility’s high vaccination rate for keeping COVID mostly at bay. “I’m very pleased to say we have been very successful at doing that. And that helps to have a 99% vaccination rate amongst our residents and our staff. And, 95% of our residents have a booster shot. So we feel we are as protected as we can be but we’re not going to let down our guard,” says Cruickshank.  

According to the notice from DOH, the new guidance “supersedes and replaces any/all previously issued guidance and recommendations regarding nursing home visitation previously issued by the Department.” And featured in bold red letters on the guidance from both CMS and DOH:

Visitation is now allowed for all residents at all times.

Check out the DOH guidance below:

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