Governor Bill Lee, in coordination with his Unified Command Group, has released guidance on requirements and options permitting Tennessee’s long-term care facilities to provide limited visitation options while keeping their resident populations safe from COVID-19.
“From my own family experience, I know how heartbreakingly difficult and stressful it is to not see loved ones for weeks at a time,” Governor Lee said. “Our family members, friends, and neighbors in long-term care are our most vulnerable Tennesseans. Even limited visitation options will bring relief and support for residents and visitors alike, as long as we can ensure everyone’s well-being.”
The UCG guidance was released in connection with an executive order, and permits new forms of visitation beginning on Monday, June 15, 2020.
Facilities that choose to re-open to visitors must first meet the following prerequisites:
•Testing of all staff and residents at least once, and compliance with applicable regulations regarding weekly staff re-testing;
•No new COVID-19 case in residents or staff members in the previous 28 days;
•Compliant with Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities regulations and infection control guidelines;
•Overall stability of the disease burden present in the community where the facility is located.
“Our hope is to balance the need for social interaction at long-term care facilities with providing a safe environment for residents, staff, and visitors,” said Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP, Tennessee Department of Health. “We will monitor the implementation of this visitation plan closely, knowing we may need to revert to more protective measures if we start seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases at facilities.”
Long-term care facilities that meet the prerequisites and allow limited visitation must follow guidelines, which include:
•Making appointments prior to visiting and limiting the duration of visits;
•Limiting the number of visitors per resident and daily visitors per facility;
•Enforcing visitor social distancing and mask requirements; and,
•Screening all visitors with symptom and temperature checks immediately upon facility entry.
Long-term care facilities may utilize three options for limited resident visitation to take place:
•In an outdoor setting, weather permitting;
•Using a visitation booth or protective barrier; and,
•A resident’s room if the visitor documents a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to the visit.
Separate provisions for visitation involving accommodations for support for residents with disabilities and other critical assistance or end-of-life care also remain in effect.
Waynesboro Health & Rehab released specific guidelines for their facility under the new limited visitation, including:
•Visits will be Monday through Friday by appointment only. Call 931-722-3641 ext. 400 to make appointments.
•Visitation sessions will be 30 minutes each, and the facility can accommodate three visitations per time slot.
•Visitors will be screened at the main entrance. Screening questions will be asked, temperature taken, hands sanitized, and masks will be provided. Once signed in, you will be escorted to the proper visitation area where your loved one will be waiting.
•There will be accommodations for outside or inside visits with proper markings for maintaining social distancing. Window visits at the front window or at resident room windows will still be offered, and a new telephone intercom system is being installed at the front window for easier communication.
Facility staff also reiterates that there can be no bodily contact – hugs, kisses, etc. Visitors must arrive on time for their appointments so there is time in between visits to properly sanitize all areas. In order to keep everyone on schedule, if you arrive late, your time will be limited to what is left (in your reserved time slot). They apologize for such strict measures, but must follow all guidelines to sanitize areas and help to keep our community free of COVID-19.
Boyd Cottages Assisted Living will also observe similar guidelines, including:
•Visits are by appointment only, but may be scheduled on any day of the week including weekends. Call 931-722-2000 to make an appointment.
•All visitors will be screened at the front entrance. Visitors are required to BRING THEIR OWN MASK.
•Visitors will be escorted to an outdoor meeting spot to visit with their loved one. No visitation will be allowed inside the building at this time.
•All visits will be supervised to make sure social distancing guidelines are observed.
•Appointment times are limited and are scheduled on a first-come first-serve basis. No appointments will be scheduled during meal times.