The new measures CMS announced today, which supersede prior CMS guidance, constitute the agency’s most aggressive and decisive recommendations with respect to nursing home safety in the face of the spread of COVID-19. They include:
- Restricting all visitors, effective immediately, with exceptions for compassionate care, such as end-of-life situations. In these cases, visitors will be equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, and the visit will be limited to a specific room only. Decisions about visitation during an end of life situation should be made on a case by case basis, which should include careful screening of the visitor (including clergy, bereavement counselors, etc.) for fever or respiratory symptoms.
- Restricting all volunteers and nonessential health care personnel and other personnel (i.e. barbers);
- Cancelling all group activities and communal dining; and
- Implementing active screening of residents and health care personnel for fever and respiratory symptoms.
Other healthcare workers, such as EMS or hospice, as well as surveyors should be admitted unless they show signs and symptoms. Signs indicating visitor restriction should be placed on entrances around the building.
In its news release, CMS urged facilities to communicate with residents’ families about the visitation policy, and have a staff member facilitate communication between resident and family members.
For all CMS guidance for SNF and other long-term care settings, visit: