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Important Details Regarding New DOH ACF Visitation Guidance

New ACF Visitation Guidance and Important Clarifications

We are extremely pleased to report that the Department of Health (DOH) issued guidance on Sept. 9th announcing a change to requirements for visitation in adult care facilities (ACFs), most notably changing the timeframe from 28 to 14 days of a “lookback period” for any positives per the date of Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) reporting. More details regarding the change are discussed below. Additionally, we wanted to share an important clarification regarding the visitation criteria and a note about indoor visitation.

Resident Testing:

As you know, one of the conditions for being eligible for visitation is: “All of the consenting in-house ACF residents have undergone diagnostic COVID-19 testing, and the most recently submitted daily HERDS report indicates no new confirmed staff or resident cases in the last fourteen (14) days based on the HERDS report date.” According to a conversation with DOH, they expect new residents to be offered testing, to be in compliance with this condition. Thus, consenting residents that were admitted after you had your resident testing should be tested. They do have a choice, and you should maintain documentation if they decline, however.

Indoor Visitation:

With the recent chill in the air, we know that members are increasingly concerned about the lack of guidance regarding indoor visitation. We have been advocating for more options and flexibility regarding this issue but wanted to ensure that you were aware of the options that currently exist. The Sept. 9th Dear Administrator Letter (DAL) states: "Visitation should be limited to outdoor areas, weather permitting. Under certain limited circumstances, as determined by the facility, visitation can be inside in a well-ventilated common space with no more than 10 individuals who are appropriately socially distanced and wear a facemask or face covering while in the presence of others.”

The Department has told us that providers should submit an amended plan if indoor visitation under these circumstances was not contemplated.

Summary of Changes in New ACF Visitation Guidance:

Below is a summary of the changes we have noted between this and the July 10th visitation DAL for ACFs:

On page 1, which outlines the conditions for visitation:

  • The timeframe regarding a positive COVID-19 test ‘lookback’ period criteria for visitation is changed from 28 to 14 days of the date of the HERDS report.
  • With regard to compliance with reporting requirements and applicable guidance, it adds: "…plans of correction have been received for all citations related to the aforementioned reporting requirements."

On page 2, the DAL specifically includes the mention of resident advocates as allowed visitors to the facility.

On page 3, which outlines the actions that can be taken if the aforementioned conditions are met:

  • The following language is separated as a standalone bullet; it had previously been included as part of the preceding bullet: “At no time shall the total number of visitors exceed 10 percent of the in-house resident census.” This had previously been included in the indoor visitation guidance.
  • A new Bullet 2 is added: "Allow for resumption of external renovation projects with written consent of the applicable regional office of the Department subject to receipt of a requisite Resident Safety Plan and/or licensure project via NYSECON and weekly staff testing of the contractor staff consistent with Executive Order. Those renovation projects impacting resident space are not currently permitted."
  • A new paragraph regarding the Ombudsman program is added: “Representatives of the LTCOP are permitted as visitors in accordance with this guidance without obtaining a COVID-19 test result. However, in order for LTCOP representatives to visit an adult care facility or its residents in an instance where the adult care facility has not submitted a New York Forward Safety Plan pursuant to this guidance, the representative must obtain COVID-19 negative test in accordance with the Department’s July 3, 2020 guidance.”
  • The rest of the letter seems to be reorganized slightly, but the information does not appear to have changed.

We encourage you to review the DAL carefully to ensure compliance. Again, our collective advocacy made an impact on this critical issue, and we appreciate your efforts.

Contact: Diane Darbyshire, ddarbyshire@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8828