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Nursing home guidelines loosen under newly released guidelines

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 10:19 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - For families with loved ones in nursing homes, COVID restrictions have kept them apart this last year. Under new guidelines, residents can even hug their loved ones if they and the facility meet specific requirements.

Outdoor visits are still the preferred method of contact under the newest Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines, but as of Friday, they are allowing residents to meet with their loved ones indoors if they meet certain criteria and if there isn’t a single COVID case at the facility.

Unvaccinated residents cannot have indoor visitation in parishes with positivity rates higher than 10 percent or if the vaccination rate is less than 70 percent.

For the very first time since the pandemic started more than a year ago, the guidance allows a resident to hug their loved ones if that resident has been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks and the facility meets the criteria. That close contact still includes both parties wearing a full-fitted mask and hand washing before and after close contact.

At The Verandah in Lake Charles, Executive Director Leslie Von Der Ahe says they’re observing CDC and CMS guidelines to protect their independent living residents.

“We tried to allow just one or two visitors at a time,” Von Der Ahe said. “We’re still encouraging that, but we’re not totally shutting it down. I mean it takes more than one or two people to move you into the Verandah.”

Now that a majority of their residents have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, they are allowing them to mingle once again. Resident Nancy Hanchey says it lifts their spirits despite being away from loved ones.

“Being in the dining room has been a really big milestone,” Hanchey said. “We’re so happy to be together that we’re not complaining.”

The Verandah has yet to open their assisted living and memory care facilities.

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