State allows visitors at nursing homes, other care facilities

For Life After 50

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released guidance June 24 to allow outdoor visitation at senior homes and other care facilities.

“Isolation of individuals in nursing homes, group homes, assisted living communities and other congregate settings impose substantial physical and mental health consequences for these residents,” the state’s COVID-19 website said.

“Social distancing and use of electronic means of communication remain strongly recommended,” but the state decided to implement this guidance now because Colorado’s disease rates are low, the website and a news release said.

The guidance says:

  • The facility cannot have outdoor visitation if it had any recent positive COVID-19 cases or outbreaks and has not completed the 14-day isolation period.
  • Facilities with active cases cannot offer visits.
  • Visits must be scheduled.
  • The visitor must be greeted outside by staff, who will check the visitor’s temperature and screen for symptoms. Visitors with symptoms in the previous 14 days should not be allowed. Residents in isolation or quarantine related to COVID-19 or who have symptoms may not participate.
  • All visitors must wear a face covering. All staff and the resident must wear a surgical or cloth mask unless doing so would inhibit the resident’s health.
  • Facilities must designate a meeting area outdoors for visits. The facility should ensure that residents not participating in visits continue to have access to outdoor space. The area must be monitored to ensure it remains separated from the facility population and staff.
  • No more than eight people (including resident, staff and visitors) in the gathering, or the number determined by using the state’s social distancing space calculator at — whichever is smaller.
  • Furniture used should be cleaned and disinfected between visits.

The guidance applies to long-term care, skilled nursing, nursing, assisted living, intermediate care and independent living facilities, along with group homes.

The state may amend the guidance if Colorado sees cases increase and data suggest that visitation is no longer safe, the release said. Outdoor visitation will not be allowed if the facility has an outbreak or if the community is under a stay-at-home order.

The guidance does not address “compassionate care visits,” such as in end-of-life situations. Under federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, those visits have been allowed on a case-by-case basis and should include symptom screening to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Public health orders establish requirements that Coloradans must follow, while guidance documents provide instructions for how businesses and individuals can comply with the orders, according to the release.

Gov. Jared Polis announced on June 4 that the state is working on a program called Lifeline Pass to allow visits at nursing homes and senior care facilities from those who test negative for COVID-19 and have no known exposure or symptoms.

At a news conference June 18, Polis said the state was still working on the Lifeline Pass program.

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