CMS lifts COVID-19 nursing home visitation restrictions, increases survey oversights

In a series of memorandums published Nov. 12, CMS lifted nursing home visitation restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and increased survey oversights.

Under new visitation guidelines, visitation is now allowed for residents at all times. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, is encouraged to wear masks in communal areas.

Visitors testing positive for COVID-19, symptoms of COVID-19, or currently meeting the criteria for quarantine, should not enter facilities. Facilities should screen all who enter for these visitation exclusions.

While there is no limit to the number of visitors residents can have, visits should adhere to the "core principles" of preventing COVID-19. In-room visitations should not occur if a resident has an unvaccinated or immunocompromised roommate. 

Surveyors are to prioritize recertification surveys based on risks to residents and quality of care, under new survey oversight guidelines.

CMS will no longer require focused infection control surveys to be conducted within three to five days of a nursing home having three or more new COVID-19 confirmed cases, or one confirmed resident case in a previously COVID-19 free facility. 

Surveyors, however, must continue to perform annual focused infection control surveys of 20 percent of nursing homes.

CMS is also providing temporary guidance and flexibilities for surveyors to work through current backlogs of complaints and recertification surveys in direct result of the suspension of certain onsite survey activities.


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