Vaccination and Visitation Update - February 24, 2021
We continue to appreciate your patience as we navigate the changing regulations and new information emerging about COVID variants and what they mean to nursing home reopenings in NJ. With the vaccine availability have come many questions about our visitation policies, which I’d like to answer here based on what we currently know.
Please understand that we must adhere to the directives of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the state and county Departments of Health. Since day-one of the pandemic, these organizations have dictated the requirements for nursing homes to follow (or be subject to steep fines, closure, or license revocation). They also will dictate when we can open back up to outdoor and/or indoor visitation. This decision will be based partially on the positivity rate in the surrounding community, which as you know has been particularly high in Middlesex County to date.
Please note that CMS also regulates what is allowed in nursing homes related to COVID, to further guide the states. During a mid-February interview, Evan Shulman, CMS nursing home division director, stated, “It’s too early…[CMS] cannot change our visitation or other guidance now at this moment in time, but we are looking at it and want to change it as soon as possible.” One reason cited by Shulman is that health officials don’t yet know if the vaccine prevents transmission or how well it will hold up against new COVID-19 variants.
As soon as we receive updated guidance, we will share it with our families. We know how badly you wish to see your loved ones and we appreciate that fact more than you know. I assure you we are continually asking these same questions to health officials and have our residents’ best interests at the heart of all we do. That being said, we will keep finding creative ways to keep residents connected, distracted from COVID news, and engaged in fun activities to pass the time.