MDHHS order loosens restrictions on nursing home visitations
Wed, 03/03/2021 - 3:03pm caleb
Residential Care Facilities Order allows up to two visitors at one time but they must adhere to testing protocol
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – in addition to changing regulations for capacity limits at gatherings and inside many different businesses – announced an adjustment of its “Requirements for Residential Care Facilities Order” on Tuesday, March 2, that reduces restrictions on nursing home visitations.
“Today I signed updates to two epidemic orders, one allowing for increased capacity limits at some venues, larger residential gatherings, and one expanding visitation at long term care facilities with testing protocols in place,” said Elizabeth Hertel, Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Under the updated residential care facilities order visitors are limited to two people per resident but indoor and outdoor visitation will be allowed at longterm facilities in all counties regardless of county risk level.”
“Visitation may continue as long as the facility has not had a case of COVID in the previous 14 days and we ask that all visitors participating in indoor visitation are subject to rapid antigen testing. We also ask that visitors wear face masks and other appropriate PPE and that in general they maintain six feet of social distancing,” Hertel said.
“I’m pleased that we can now allow visitations at nursing homes,” said Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “We know that this virus has taken a disproportionate toll on our seniors, and the isolation and the time apart has been taxing on everyone with loved ones in long term care facilities. Under the new guidelines family members will be able to go and visit their relatives in nursing homes after receiving a negative COVID-19 test.”
The March 2 Requirements for Residential Care Facilities Order rescinds a previous version of the order that went into effect on December 8, 2020.
The December order said “residential care facilities must prohibit visitors from entering their facilities” with some exceptions and “limit communal dining and internal and external group activities.” The order allowed visitors if the facility “had no new COVID-19 cases within the prior 14 days” or if “the facility (was) in a county where the current Risk Level on the MI Safe Start Map (was) Low, A, B, C, or D with the exception of outdoor visits which (were) permitted in counties where the current Risk Level (was) E.” Permitted visits had to be “by appointment only” and limited to “two persons or fewer at any given time.”
The new order says “residential care facilities shall “make efforts to allow communal dining and group activities to occur for those residents who are fully recovered from a COVID-19 infection or are not in isolation, or are otherwise not under observation for symptoms of COVID-19” with six feet of distance between “participants.”
The March 2 Requirements for Residential Care Facilities Order says “facilities must support and accommodate residents receiving visitors. Visitation includes, to the extent practicable, both indoor and outdoor visitation unless otherwise specified,” but “visitation may only occur when the “facility has had no new COVID-19 cases originate in the facility, including those involving residents or staff, within the prior 14 days and is not currently conducting outbreak testing,” “the local health department or MDHHS has not prohibited visitation at the facility,” and “all visitors over 13 years old participating in indoor visitation” must test negative for COVID-19 through rapid “point of entry testing” or “be tested on their own within 72 hours of coming to the facility and require proof of negative test results upon entry.”
The new order was listed as “effective immediately” on March 2.