BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Nursing Home Association said Wednesday they are working as a group toward the goal of reopening nursing homes to family and friends.
Alabama Nursing Home Association President and CEO Brandon Farmer said he knows visitation is critically important, but the top priority remains the health and safety of residents and staff.
Farmer gave this statement, “Thanks to the hard work of our employees, we have made tremendous progress caring for those who are most vulnerable to this disease and many facilities that experienced outbreaks are now COVID-19-free or have very few cases. We want to be confident that we have made in-person visits as safe as possible before reopening. The last thing we want to do is jeopardize this progress and have to close our doors again after reopening them for visitation.
“When the pandemic began, we followed the federal and state mandates and closed our doors to visitation and remain under those orders. We have followed guidance from federal and state agencies and will continue to do so as we move toward reopening. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance in May on reopening nursing homes but cautioned that facilities should be among the last parts of a community to reopen to ensure the safety of residents. CMS said nursing homes must consider the status of COVD-19 cases in their community and facility, access to PPE, testing for residents and staff and other factors before reopening. In-person visits must not allow for physical contact, maintain social distancing and visitors must be screened and wear a face covering.
“The Alabama Nursing Home Association is encouraging its members to allow in-person visitation within CMS and Alabama Department of Public Health parameters as soon as they are safely able to do so. We know our members will find creative ways to conduct safe, outdoor visits. I must stress that nursing homes care for people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 and must protect the health and safety of residents and staff. Reopening will be a deliberate process and depends greatly on the status of the disease in the local community. We appreciate the patience and understanding of families as we care for their loved ones and look forward to seeing them soon.”