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Long-term care facilities, nursing centers and other residential care services are allowed to phase in visitation starting Monday. Governor Stitt amended Executive Order 2020-20 to begin the process.
The facilities will need to take into consideration the number of COVID-19 positive residents and staff it has, as well as, the infection rates in its community.It is important we take a measured and responsible approach to allowing visitors to our nursing homes and long-term care facilities, just as we did with the rest of our state,” said Stitt. “This guidance will allow us to continue to protect the health and lives of Oklahomans while allowing them to safely resume valuable interactions with their loved ones.”
There are three phases to allowing visitation in the long-term care facilities. There also has to be a designated infection preventionist and plan for monitoring infections and staff training.
“The Health Department has worked closely with communities and providers on safely easing in visitations for residents at nursing homes and long-term care facilities across Oklahoma,” said Commissioner of Health Lance Frye. “Our mission is to support the mental health and quality of life for residents, while also taking into consideration the realities of COVID-19. We encourage families as they reunite with their loved ones to consider getting tested in advance and to wear masks for visitations and closely follow heightened protocols at the facilities.”
Those with loved ones in residential care should expect to follow new guidelines as they visit the facilities.
Throughout this pandemic, Governor Stitt and his administration have communicated with the skilled nursing profession that their desire is to resume visitation as soon as it is safe. Our operators and staff share that desire because restrictions on visitation directly impact quality-of-life for our residents and their loved ones,” said Care Providers Oklahoma President and CEO Steven Buck.
“At the same time, we expect this process to unfold cautiously and with an emphasis on safety. Visitors to skilled nursing facilities should expect to see facilities enforcing new measures that impact when visitations can occur, limits to physical contact and proximity to residents, and other safety precautions. We appreciate the patience and understanding of our residents and their families thus far and ask for their continued cooperation in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Ongoing collaboration, including working closely with our colleagues in public health, is necessary to protect the safety of our residents, staff and broader communities.”
Buck also says as long-term care facilities begin welcoming visitors again, there will be an increase for workers and supplies.
“Furthermore, we hope policymakers understand that opening our facilities will result in significant staffing needs, increased use of PPE and sanitation equipment, and potentially more cases in our facilities as the virus enters our facilities from the community and not the other way around. This comes at a time when nursing homes are already incurring skyrocketing expenses as they work to protect residents and staff from COVID-19. It is heartening to see that Gov. Stitt’s announcement includes the mention of a new grant program for long-term care facilities funded by the CARES Act. It is impossible to understate how urgently this is needed and how important it is for the state to deliver substantial financial assistance as soon as possible,” said Buck.
The Governor’s Office says the state is finalizing a grant program to use CARES Act money to help long-term care facilities enhance their infection disease prevention and mitigation.