October 7, 2020

Long-Term Care Settings Have Eased Pandemic Restrictions

As the State moves to Phase 3, facilities like group homes, ICF/IIDs and adult care homes may also have eased restrictions related to visitation.  Governor Cooper has signed Executive Order 165 to provide NC DHHS the authority to decide the appropriate restrictions on the activities and operations in long-term care facilities.  The Executive Order remains in place at least until November 20th or when the State of Emergency is rescinded. 

On September 28th, NC DHHS Secretarial Order 6 was published and provides more detail to the current expectations related to visitation in long-term care facilities with 7 or more beds.  In fact, the Secretary is now allowing for limited indoor visitation in these facilities.  The Secretarial Order cites guidance by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).  It allows for indoor visitation if there has been no new onset of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days and the facility is not currently conducting outbreak testing.  Each resident may only have one visitor at a time and the number of total visitors in the facility should be limited.  The facility is also encouraged to limit movement in the facility.  Throughout the spring and summer families were not able to have in-person visits with their individuals who reside in these group homes, ICF/IIDs, psychiatric residential treatment facilities, adult care homes and skilled nursing facilities.  On September 1, the Secretary allowed for outdoor visitation.  Now, as the weather turns colder, limited indoor visitation is being allowed. 

Facilities with six or less beds have not had the same restrictions and remain under the same guidance they have had in place.  These smaller facilities are required to have a written plan in place on how they will handle visitation, communal dining and group activities.