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DOH Clarifies Guidance on Nursing Home Visits by Health Care Providers and Consultants

The Department of Health (DOH) clarified its position on visits by non-essential consultants and health care providers in recent emails to LeadingAge NY. Based on these communications, we believe that facilities may allow routine, preventive, and non-urgent visits by medical, dental, podiatric, and other health care providers, even if the facility is not open for visitation, subject to testing and screening requirements. In addition, DOH has indicated that non-essential consultants may enter facilities that are not open for visitation, subject to the same requirements.

Specifically, in one email, DOH noted that "regarding entry of medical/dental/podiatric professionals into facilities, . . . medically-necessary visits to residents are not suspended in facilities that are closed to visitation." A related email stated that facilities can allow non-essential consultants into the nursing home with testing and proper personal protective equipment (PPE), subject to testing requirements. According to that email,

"If the facility isn't open for visitation, the consultant needs to be tested as if they are personnel of the facility, such as contract staff. If they are coming into the facility several times, then tested twice/week. If they come into the facility only once, then the test needs to have been conducted more recently than 7 days prior (for example, if staff usually have 3 days between tests, then the consultant should be tested at least 3 days prior entering the facility)."

Although previous guidance from March 13th and March 20th references limiting visits to medically necessary visitors providing "essential care" and restricting "non-essential" health care personnel, this new email seems to relax the standard to allow visits by health care providers that are medically necessary but not essential.

Contact: Karen Lipson, klipson@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8838