Signature Healthcare announced recently that it would revise visitation following updated guidance from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

The new guidance will allow for closer contact with visitors for residents who have been vaccinated, according to Hartford Rehabilitation and Wellness Center Administrator Justin Hendrix.

“That gave the residents a little more flexibility in their visits with whether or not they could have close contact with their loved one,” he said. “Primarily, through the pandemic, we had window visits, facetime, phone calls … We did a car parade here in Hartford and they enjoyed that. Up until the last two weeks, that’s what we relied on for visitation.”

Guidance on visitations, he said, relied heavily on the positivity rate for COVID-19 cases countywide. Since there is a decline in local cases, visitations have been opened up.

“The one thing that’s changed a little bit is if the resident’s been vaccinated, they can choose to have closer contact with their family,” he said. “CMS prefers the in-person visitation to be outside whenever we possibly can. The outdoor visits pose a much lower risk of transmission due to better space and airflow … We do have space indoors and it is allowed with the regulations as a secondary to accommodate for inclement weather or if the resident’s needs are more conducive for indoor visits.”

Visits also have to be scheduled in advance, he said.

While the pandemic as a whole has greatly affected residents and staff within long-term care facilities, as well as the community at large, Hendrix said there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“The pandemic and the isolation has affected everybody nationwide. Whether you’re in a long-term care facility or in the community, we’ve all had that isolation and separation from loved ones. For our residents, in particular, they haven’t embraced or had a loved one at their side for over a year,” he said. “We’re proud of the staff, we’re proud of the residents for making it through it and now we’re seeing a light at the end of the tunnel with some of the visitation that’s opening up.”

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