Department of Health Issues Directive to Allow Parents/Guardians Indoor Visits at Long-Term Care Facilities
The New Jersey Department of Health released a directive that permits parents, a family member, legal guardians and support persons of pediatric, developmentally disabled and intellectually disabled residents of long-term care facilities to arrange for by-appointment indoor visits with their loved ones.
“I understand how stressful and heartbreaking it has been for so many families not to be able to visit their loved ones in person for more than three months now,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Reuniting families with their loved ones in these facilities is a critical step for the mental, physical, social and emotional well-being of these residents.”
The Department’s directive outlines guidance to safeguards the health of these vulnerable individuals.
Facilities can only allow visits if there has been no new probable or confirmed coronavirus cases recorded across a 28-day period, which is two incubation periods for COVID-19.
Visitors must be screened for symptoms, which includes temperature checks and potential exposure to COVID-19. These screenings should take place in a designated area that maintains social distancing and infection control standards. If an individual has any COVID-19 symptoms or possible exposure, they will not be permitted to visit with a resident.
All visitors will be required to wear a mask, be educated on proper hand hygiene and practice social distancing with anyone other than their loved one.
Facilities must designate a specific area for visitation in order to limit the visitor’s movement around the facility. When staff are transporting the resident to a designated visitation area, a safe distance of 6 feet distance must be maintained between other residents and staff.
Facilities are required to obtain informed consent from the resident and the visitor in writing. Those giving consent must acknowledge that they are aware of the potential dangers of COVID-19 exposure and will comply with the facility’s policies during the visit. As part of the consent form, the visitor must agree to notify the facility if they tested positive for the virus or have symptoms within 14 days of visiting.
Each long-term care facility will set the hours, days and durations of visits. Facilities can begin scheduling indoor visit 48 hours after they have submitted an attestation to the Department that they have implemented the requirements of the Department’s directive, asserting the facility is not experiencing an outbreak, designated areas have been established for visitation, sufficient staff and person protective equipment are available and that they have created a system to schedule appointments.