ST. PAUL, Minn. – New guidelines have been issued on visitation policies at long-term care facilities in Minnesota.
One of the biggest new instructions is the primary factor to consider when making visitation decision is where there has been a COVID-19 exposure at the facility within the past 28 days.
“We will be dealing with COVID-19 for a long time, and it is important to find a way to allow residents to interact with their loved ones safely,” says Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “Residents have been isolated for months, and that presents significant risks for their emotional and social well-being. This guidance helps facilities keep their COVID-19 guard up while taking cautious steps toward ensuring residents have more social connections and interaction.”
MDH says the guidelines set forth a clear process for opening up to greater levels of visitation based on the coronavirus risk for the long-term care facility.
“The regular presence of family and friends is vital to the health and well-being of residents,” says State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Cheryl Hennen. “In addition to providing emotional support and social connection, family and friends provide essential monitoring and care to residents. Most people understand the importance of restricting visitors from an infection control perspective, but it is very distressing for residents who are lonely and isolated, sick and dying, to not have their families there. This visitor guidance recognizes how long-term care facilities can balance the protection of residents with their needs for family and friend connection.”
The guidelines, which take effect on August 29, state facilities should develop testing plans with baseline facility-wide testing within a window of time before or after opening, depending on facility type, nursing home vs. assisted living. Nursing home residents are considered to be at a higher risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19, which is why they must conduct facility-wide testing. Assisted living type-facility residents are still at high risk, and so facility-wide testing is recommended.
To see the new guidelines, click here.