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State announces revised guidelines to expand visitation at nursing homes

Homestead Health Center in Wichita, Kansas.
Homestead Health Center in Wichita, Kansas.(KWCH)
Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 4:19 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In response to significant reductions in COVID-19 infections and transmissions, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) Secretary Laura Howard announced revised recommendations for nursing facilities to expand visitation.

“This updated guidance is great news for Kansans with loved ones in long-term care facilities and proof that our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 are working,” Governor Kelly said. “While this is another step towards our return to normalcy, I encourage all Kansans to follow the guidance, continue to mask up, and receive the vaccine when it is their turn.”

A news release from the governor’s office cites guidance from the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that follows millions of vaccinations being administered to nursing home residents and staff.

While outdoor visitation is preferred, even when residents and visitors are fully vaccinated, CMS said facilities should allow indoor visitation, as well, “except for a few circumstances when visitation should be limited due to a high risk of COVID-19 transmission.”

Scenarios limiting indoor visitation include unvaccinated residents if the nursing home’s COVID-19 county positivity rate is more than 10 percent and less than 70 percent of residents in the faculty are fully vaccinated, residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, and residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated.

“We encourage visitors to become vaccinated when they have the opportunity. While visitor testing and vaccination can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, visitors should not be required to be tested or vaccinated (or show proof of such) as a condition of visitation,” the guidelines say.

Further, the guidelines say that compassionate care visits and visits required under federal disability rights law should be allowed at all times, regardless of a resident’s vaccination status, the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate or an outbreak.

“KDADS recognizes there are other long-term care settings in Kansas not subject to the guidance issued by CMS for certified nursing facilities. Using federal guidelines as a road map, KDADS has issued its Visitation Guidance for Long Term Care Settings for those facilities throughout the state,” Kelly’s office said.

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