Nursing homes ask CMS to limit visitations amid omicron surge

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Officials from three leading nursing home industry trade groups are urging CMS to allow facilities to institute temporary visitation restrictions as the industry braces for a spike in COVID-19 cases. 

"As the guidance is written, it appears that a facility is not permitted to place any restriction on visitation, regardless of staffing levels, community positivity rates, or severity of facility outbreak," they wrote in the Dec. 17 letter. "We are concerned that the absolute, unconditional language may pose a risk to nursing homes and their residents, placing skilled nursing facilities in precarious situations when outbreaks occur." 

On Nov. 12, CMS lifted nursing home visitation restrictions initially imposed by the pandemic. Under the new guidance, facilities can no longer limit the frequency and length of visits or number of visitors, nor can they require visits be scheduled in advance.

"It seems counterintuitive and potentially dangerous to limit facilities’ ability to temporarily restrict access to the building when a deadly and highly transmissible illness like COVID-19, especially with omicron expected to surge, is already rampant inside the facility, in the surrounding community, or when hospitals in the area are experiencing a surge," the letter said. 

The letter also noted staff shortages may lead to facilities being unable to ensure safe visitation policies are being adhered to.

 

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