Some COVID-19 visitation rules eased

Stricter regulations for adult nursing homes remain in place despite concerns of family members

David Robinson USA TODAY Network
New York has changed COVID-19 rules over visits to assisted living facilities and pediatric nursing homes, but strict regulations for adult nursing homes remain in place.

State health officials have eased COVID-19 restrictions on visitation at assisted living facilities and pediatric nursing homes, but strict rules for adult-care nursing homes remained unchanged.

The new rules in part allow visits at assisted living facilities and pediatric nursing homes that go 14 days without a COVID-19 case, down from the 28 days required previously.

Other strict guidelines, such as designating people allowed to visit pediatric patients, were included in the rules quietly posted to the Department of Health website on Wednesday evening.

But nursing homes caring for thousands of elderly and frail residents remain under the 28-day policy, despite calls from family members and advocates to reduce it to 14 days.

Jill Montag, a Health Department spokeswoman, issued a statement Thursday morning regarding the situation.

“We understand how difficult the pandemic-related restrictions have been for all New Yorkers, especially for children in nursing homes and their families," she said. "Outbreaks in pediatric nursing homes and adult care facilities have fortunately been less common and acute than at adult nursing homes, which has allowed us to expand visitation at these facilities.”

Montag added the agency will "continue to be guided by science and concern for residents’ welfare and will monitor facilities that host visitors, to ensure this action does not lead to an increase in cases.”

The developments come after USA TODAY Network New York reported how families are concerned residents at long-term care facilities are suffering emotional and psychological trauma due to the isolation.

Some of the other rules for assisted living facilities, which are officially called adult care facilities, included a recommendation that "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 rules state.

At no time shall the total number of visitors exceed 10% of the in-house resident census, according to the rules.

Some of the rules for pediatric nursing homes included:

Each pediatric resident for whom a support person has been determined to be essential to the care of the pediatric resident (medically necessary) may have up to two designated support persons visiting at the same time.

No more than 10% of the pediatric nursing home residents shall have visitors at any one time, the rules state. This may be adjusted by the Health Department on a facility-specific basis.