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DOH Issues Long-Awaited Visitation Guidance for ACFs, SNFs, and Pediatric SNFs

On Fri., July 10th, the Department of Health (DOH) issued guidance to adult care facilities (ACFs), skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and pediatric SNFs regarding conditions under which limited visitation could take place. While the guidance for each setting varies slightly, there are common themes. In order to begin visitation, several conditions must be met, and a plan must be developed and submitted to the Department. The plans will not be formally approved by DOH. Plans only need to be submitted if, and when, the ACF or SNF plans to resume visitation; however, we are aware that many providers do not currently meet the criteria to move forward. Members should review the guidance carefully. Clearly, the communication to residents and families and visitation process will require time and staffing resources to manage.

The limitation on the number of visitors is not per day, but rather at any given time. You may provide multiple visitation ‘sessions’ during the day; however, at any given time, the total number of visitors should not exceed the outlined limit.

The advisory states that visitation should be limited to outdoor areas, weather permitting. The guidance allows, under certain limited circumstances as determined by the facility, for indoor visitation in a well-ventilated common space with no more than 10 individuals who are appropriately socially distanced and wear a face mask or face covering while in the presence of others.

Adequate staff must be present to monitor visits and to clean and disinfect the area at the conclusion of the visit. COVID-19-positive residents, or residents with COVID-19 signs and symptoms, and residents in a 14-day quarantine or observation period are not eligible for visits. This guidance does not change the guidance previously issued relative to visitation for medically necessary or end-of-life services.

ACF-specific issues

  • The ACF advisory allows for an immediate submission of the plan if you meet the criteria and would like to move forward with a visitation plan.
  • At no time shall the total number of visitors exceed 10 percent of the resident census. You may set up the visiting hours as you wish.
  • We have obtained guidance regarding the criterion that the ACF must have undergone a DOH Infection Control survey on or after May 1, 2020 and found to be in substantial compliance. DOH indicated that ACFs will not get a formal report stating that they are in substantial compliance. Rather, if an ACF received a violation or endangerment, the ACF would not have met this criterion.
  • If you have not yet heard from DOH regarding resident testing, you can reach out to your local health department and/or DOH Regional Manager to arrange. You may also facilitate testing of your residents and provide the results to DOH.

ACFs may submit questions to DOH at covidadultcareinfo@health.ny.gov. Please also let us know what questions and concerns you have.

SNF-specific issues

  • Visitation in resident rooms or care areas is prohibited.
  • No more than 10 percent of the residents shall have visitors at any one time.
  • Only two visitors per resident will be allowed at any one time.

SNFs may submit questions to DOH at covidnursinghomeinfo@health.ny.gov. Please also let us know what questions and concerns you have.

Pediatric SNF-specific issues

The pediatric SNF guidance differs somewhat from the ACF and SNF guidance and should be reviewed carefully.

  • Visitation is limited to parents or legal guardians of the pediatric resident and immediate family. Those under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older. No more than two visitors per resident will be permitted at any one time.
  • No more than 10 percent of the residents shall have visitors at any one time.
  • Pediatric residents may also be assisted to go outdoors with staff supervision and the appropriate infection control, safety, and social distancing requirements maintained. Outdoor visitation should be encouraged whenever feasible.
  • Parents, guardians, immediate family, and specialty service providers must wear a face mask or face covering at all times when on the premises of the nursing home and maintain social distancing to the extent possible, with the exception of a parent, immediate family, or guardian having close contact with their child.

Pediatric SNFs may submit questions to DOH at covidnursinghomeinfo@health.ny.gov. Please also let us know what questions and concerns you have.

Contact: Elliott Frost, efrost@leadingageny.org, or Diane Darbyshire, ddarbyshire@leadingageny.org. Both can be reached at 518-867-8383.