Nursing home visitors see fewer restrictions to see loved ones

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 5:15 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - As New York begins to follow federal guidelines at nursing homes, it means fewer restrictions on visitors.

The rules to visit loved ones at nursing homes have been difficult during the pandemic - appointments, half-hour time limits, and a limited number of visitors. That’s even if the facility was allowing visitation at all.

Last week, the state eliminated many of those restrictions.

“The guidance is an incredible ease of visitor restrictions. There really isn’t restrictions anymore,” said Jeff Jacomowitz, director of corporate communications, Carthage Center.

Visitors must wear masks and be screened for COVID at the door. But, appointments aren’t necessary and visitors can stay as long as they’d like. At Carthage Center, the facility hasn’t had an employee test positive for COVID since mid-October, or a resident since February.

Samaritan Keep Home in Watertown had been closed to visitors since early October because of a COVID outbreak. It just reopened Monday.

Spokesperson Leslie DiStefano says officials are sensitive to the fact that Sam Keep is just getting over the outbreak, but they have to follow the new state guidance.

“This is not a Samaritan choice. This is what the federal government and state government have deemed the guidelines we must follow, and so, for us, we have to do so as safely as we possibly can,” she said.

DiStefano says Sam Keep has two COVID patients being treated at the hospital. But, a positive case no longer means a shutdown of visitation.

Nursing homes do have the option for restrictions if cases get out of hand. But, DiStefano says more visitation is crucial for the residents.

“These governing bodies really understand that residents need to be with their family members and their loved ones. It’s important to their physical and mental health,” she said.

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