NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee’s Unified Command Group is loosening restrictions placed on long-term health care facilities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning Oct. 1, long-term care facilities that have gone at least 14 days with no new COVID-19 cases among residents or staff members will be allowed to offer outdoor and limited indoor visitation with residents. Masks, physical distancing, environment disinfection and, in some instances, testing visitors will be required.
If a facility reports no new cases for 28 days, it will be allowed to offer an essential caregiver program. Essential caregivers are designated individuals who may visit frequently to assist residents with activities of daily living, such as feeding, bathing and dressing.
“The health and safety of vulnerable Tennesseans, especially our long-term care residents, remains our top priority, and our comprehensive and persistent efforts to protect this population from COVID-19 have saved lives,” Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said. “It’s time to reunite residents and their families in a safe and disciplined manner so we can better balance the physical and emotional needs of older Tennesseans.”
Tennessee is also relaxing restrictions for resident interactions like communal dining, therapeutic and social activities, and visits by non-health care personnel such as barbers and beauticians.
If a facility has new positive COVID-19 cases among residents or staff, visitation will be suspended until the facility is infection-free for at least 14 days.
The newly formed Long-Term Care Task Force will oversee the visitation changes, as well as develop and implement plans for issues that will impact the facilities going forward.
“The membership is broad and includes representatives from the Tennessee Departments of Health, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, TennCare, the Commission on Aging and Disability and the Tennessee General Assembly,” a release from the state states. “The task force also includes representatives from advocacy organizations, health care providers and facility administrators, community behavioral health and LTCF residents and their family members.”
The state says it welcomes input from loved ones about the long-term care facility plan.
Additional information about these initiatives is available online at www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov/healthcare-providers.html under Long-Term Care Facility Guidance as “Increased Visitation” and “Activities and Dining.”
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