Visiting a nursing home? A COVID-19 test is recommended but mandatory


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New York state updated its visiting guidelines to nursing homes on Monday. A local man tells us it’s been almost a year since his father cuddled in a local nursing home.

Buffalo, New York – The past year has been very difficult for families with loved ones in nursing homes, as they were unable to get what many consider to be an authentic visit with a loved one.

New York State has now released an updated nursing home visitation guidelines that will take effect on Friday. State officials say the directive is in line with federal directives.

In counties with an infection rate of less than five percent, as in every county in Western New York, testing for COVID-19 is not required, but it is recommended.

In counties where the infection rate is between 5 percent and 10 percent, a COVID-19 test is required within 72 hours. Anything greater than 10 percent, visits are not permitted, except in cases of end of life.

The state health department says it will provide fast-track nursing home testing at no cost to the nursing home.

Dan Lovefilm remembers the date – March 14, 2020 – the last time he managed to hug his father.

Lovefilm said, “Everyone’s life was turned upside down that day, I’m not alone.”

He says his father, George, who is in his late 70s, is at Mercy’s nursing facility at OLV in Lackawanna. It was definitely tough, as it rode the very limited wave of COVID restrictions. Loehfelm says he is able to see his dad once a day for about 15 minutes, except on Sundays.

“Now that it’s cold, we’re kind of in the hallway and he’s on the other side of the door, which is tough again, hard to hear, and hard for us to hear him hear us,” Loehfelm said.

The state recommends that visitors to nursing homes in western New York get tested for the Coronavirus before entering, even if they are vaccinated.

“Because you can still get it in the nasal passage,” said Dr. Howard Zucker, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health. “So it is helpful to have it tested to make sure it is not in the nasal passage.”

Capacity limits will be increased at the end of the week as well.

“The maximum number of visitors you can host is to accommodate 20 percent of the facility’s residents,” Zucker said.

That’s a rise of 10 percent.

“We’re trying to make sure we don’t overwhelm nursing homes with that,” Zucker said.

But for Loehfelm, who has said most of his family has been vaccinated, he just wants to be closer to his father.

“If I am responsible, my dad was vaccinated, and my mother, and my sister were, and all the residents were vaccinated inside the nursing home, why can’t they go there? In his room so he’s not alone, “Luo told Film.

Medical experts say it is still possible to catch the virus, even after vaccination.

Federal directives state that while an overseas visit is preferred, the visit can take place in residents ‘rooms and places to visit, depending on the facility’s structure and residents’ needs. Nursing homes can also consider a series of factors when considering a visit, such as staffing levels, access to testing, and provision of personal protective equipment.

For several months, there have been limited visits to nursing homes, as long as there have been no cases of coronavirus. If there is, employees and residents are tested over a period of at least 14 days until there are no positive COVID cases.

2 on your side still waiting for full details of nursing home directives.


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