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CMS Updates Visitation Guidance for Nursing Homes

Yesterday March 10th, 2021 CMS released updated guidance (QSO-20-29 NH) for nursing homes to safely expand visitation options during the COVID-19. These changes were made as a result of newly released CDC guidance. According to the updated language in QSO-20-29, facilities should allow responsible indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of vaccination status of the resident, or visitor, unless certain scenarios arise that would limit visitation for:
  • Unvaccinated residents, if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is greater than 10 percent and less than 70 percent of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated,
  • Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met the criteria to discontinue transmission-based precautions, or
  • Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine
The updated guidance emphasizes that “compassionate care” visits should be allowed at all times, regardless of a resident's vaccination status, the county's COVID-19 positivity rate, or an outbreak. Compassionate care visits include visits for a resident whose health has sharply declined or is experiencing a significant change in circumstances.

CMS continues to recommend facilities, residents, and families adhere to the core principles of COVID-19 infection control, including maintaining physical distancing and conducting visits outdoors whenever possible. Keep in mind this includes screening ANYONE who enters the building for signs and symptoms of COVID 19.

Members are strongly encouraged to review the QSO memo. While there are some differences between the new CDC guidance, providers must follow CMS and/or state and local guidance. MHCA has reached out to state survey and DHHS officials to determine if there are any differences for our members and we will continue to review both sets of guidance and seek clarity on any inconsistencies. We will provide updates as we have more information. 

Staff Contact: dwatford@mehca.org 

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