Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference on Thursday, part of which announced new guidelines for nursing home visitation. He directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to expand visitation to all COVID-negative residents in long-term care and allow the designation of two essential caregivers for residents. This directive will go into place on September 24th.
“Allowing safe in-person visitation with essential caregivers will mean the world to residents and families,” said Kevin Warren, President and CEO of the Texas Health Care Association (THCA). “Because of the necessary health precautions set out by the Governor, many of the residents have not seen their loved ones since March.”
Designated caregivers can be family members, friends, or other individuals. The designated caregivers will visit individually and by appointment, and will not have to maintain physical distancing. Facilities will train caregivers on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection control protocol before visiting. The caregiver must also test negative for COVID-19 within 14 days before the visit.
“While we wait for the final rule to be released on these additional reopening guidelines, we appreciate the flexibility that providers will be able to maintain as they incorporate the new guidance into their ongoing efforts while maintaining the health and safety of the residents and staff. We thank Governor Abbott for working hard to find a path forward and we hope to see a positive impact for both residents and staff in the coming weeks and months,” finished Warren.
In addition to Thursday’s in-person visitation guidelines, long-term care surveyors will now be required to be tested regularly, and visitation will be allowed in facilities with a separate COVID-19 designated wing, unit, or building. According to the announcement, all Phase 1 requirements will stay in place and reopening will be optional for facilities that feel they have the resources to reopen safely.