Nursing homes should restrict visitors, CMS says

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CMS updated its guidance for infection control and prevention measures in the midst of the new coronavirus, recommending that all U.S. nursing home facilities restrict visitation in nearly all situations.

Nursing homes are advised to restrict visitors and nonessential healthcare workers, except in certain care situations, such as end-of-life cases. In those cases, visitors should be limited to a specific room. They should also wash their hands thoroughly before entering the room and wear personal protective equipment, such as face masks.

"Decisions about visitation during an end-of-life situation should be made on a case-by-case basis, which should include careful screening of the visitor (including clergy, bereavement counselors, etc.) for fever or respiratory symptoms," the guidance states.

Facilities must notify potential visitors of the restrictions until further notice.

Exceptions to restrictions should include essential healthcare personnel, such as EMS personnel or dialysis technicians, provided they meet CDC guidelines for healthcare workers. CMS surveyors also should be allowed to enter nursing homes if they don't pose an infection risk, the guidelines state.

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