WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The state Department of Health has new guidelines for visiting nursing homes around New York.
The biggest change: visitors must prove they’re negative for COVID-19.
“The latest batch of guidance basically told us that for any visitation, indoor or outdoor, we need to have a negative COVID test from visitors within seven days of their planned visit,” said Leslie Distefano, spokesperson for Samaritan Health, which operates Samaritan Keep Home and Samaritan Summit Village in Watertown.
She says that particular provision goes into effect September 24.
If you visit a loved one, there will be other rules. No hugging or kissing will be allowed, only 10 percent of a facility can have a visit per day, only two visitors will be allowed per resident, and everyone must have their temperature taken.
Under state order, if a facility member tests positive for COVID-19, visitation will only be halted for 14 days, rather than 28 days, which previous guidance required.
The new rules are a sign of hope for the loved ones of residents.
Bob Meekins organized a rally at Lewis County Health Systems earlier this month, asking the state to loosen restrictions.
“All good steps in the right direction. It’s not where we ultimately would like to be, but we have to take these baby steps to get where we’d like to be. Just to see our loved ones in the nursing home is a big thing,” he said.
Samaritan is currently allowing limited visitation. Lewis County Health System will start visitation again on September 24.
Officials say you need to call them to schedule your visit.