Visitation Restrictions During COVID Relaxed for Alabama Nursing Homes

Family visiting an elder outside a nursing home

The past year has been very difficult for everyone. We have changed the ways we do everything to keep each other safe. The pandemic has been especially challenging for those with families in long-term care facilities.

For the majority of 2020, safely visiting a loved one in an Alabama nursing home was impossible. Nursing homes have been some of the hardest-hit areas of our society. That is due to the fact that older adults are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. 

However, public health guidelines have recently been relaxed. The pace of the vaccine roll-out has picked up in recent months. Also, state health regulations and mask mandates have decreased new caseloads for infections. These promising trends make it easier for people to visit their loved ones safely.

As of March 10, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated the federal nursing home guidelines. All visitors still need to adhere to standard infection control guidelines. But many families can safely visit without putting others at undue risk.

Let’s look at the ways in which visitation restrictions during COVID relaxed for Alabama nursing homes. 

Indoor Visitation Guides

All facilities can now allow indoor visitations for many residents. This is true as long as these visits are conducted safely. Indoor visitations are even available to non-vaccinated residents and visitors in some cases.

Nursing homes that meet the following criteria and certain steps are eligible for indoor visitations:

  • No new COVID infections in the past two weeks 
  • No need for outbreak testing
  • A limited number of visitors for each resident
  • A limited number of visitors in the facility at any one time
  • Visitors must wear masks that cover their mouths and noses
  • Social distancing must be practiced during indoor visits

There are some circumstances in which indoor visits are unable to take place safely. 

Unvaccinated residents cannot engage in indoor visitation if the infection rate in the county is greater than 10% and less than 70% of the nursing home’s residents are vaccinated. Residents with COVID infections are not approved for indoor visitations until transmission-based precautions are no longer needed. 

Residents who are in quarantine are ineligible for indoor visits. This is true regardless of their vaccination status. Even with these restrictions, many families will be relieved to spend time with their loved ones once again.

Indoor Visitation Guidelines During a COVID Outbreak

If there is a COVID-19 outbreak in a particular facility, specific regulations apply. Outbreaks increase the possibility that staff, residents, and visitors will contract the virus. 

Facilities should take certain steps when an outbreak is detected. But if the outbreak is contained to a single unit of the nursing home facility, visitations can continue.

During an outbreak, nursing homes must adhere to CMS guidance and regulations. These regulations include:

  • Routine staff testing
  • Testing residents who show symptoms
  • Testing for the purpose of tracking outbreaks

Whenever a facility identifies a new case of COVID-19, the nursing home must begin outbreak testing. While determining how far the infections have spread within a facility, visitations must be suspended.

Visitations may begin again once the nursing home meets certain criteria. First, facility-wide testing must reveal no infections in other areas or units of the nursing home. If this is the case, visitations can continue in units with no infections.

If testing reveals COVID infections in more than one unit, visitations must stop. An outbreak in more than one area of a nursing home prevents visitations for all residents. This is true regardless of their vaccination status. 

Following an outbreak, visitations can resume once outbreak precautions are no longer necessary.

Many families in Alabama are excited to see these relaxed restrictions. Visiting loved ones is something that everyone hopes to do in a safe and responsible way.

Contact a Qualified Nursing Home Attorney

Unfortunately, long-term care facilities do not always appropriately care for their residents. If you or a loved one has experienced mistreatment or neglect at a nursing home, contact a legal professional.

The experienced Alabama nursing home attorneys at Sawyer Law Firm will fight hard for the maximum compensation in your case. Do not bear the burdens of nursing home abuse alone. Contact Sawyer Law Firm today.

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