Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee in coordination with his Unified Command Group will release guidance today on requirements and options permitting Tennessee’s long-term care facilities to provide limited visitation options while keeping their resident populations safe from COVID-19.
“From my own family experience, I know how heartbreakingly difficult and stressful it is to not see loved ones for weeks at a time,” Gov. Lee said. “Our family members, friends, and neighbors in long-term care are our most vulnerable Tennesseans. Even limited visitation options will bring relief and support for residents and visitors alike, as long as we can ensure everyone’s well-being.”
The UCG guidance is being released in connection with a forthcoming executive order and will permit new forms of visitation beginning Monday June 15, 2020.
Facilities that choose to re-open to visitors must first meet the following prerequisites:
• Testing of all staff and residents at least once, and compliance with applicable regulations regarding weekly staff re-testing;
• No new COVID-19 case in residents or staff members in the previous 28 days;
• Compliant with Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities regulations and infection control guidelines;
• Overall stability of the disease burden present in the community where the facility is located.
“Our hope is to balance the need for social interaction at long-term care facilities with providing a safe environment for residents, staff, and visitors,” said Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP, Tennessee Department of Health. “We will monitor the implementation of this visitation plan closely, knowing we may need to revert to more protective measures if we start seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases at facilities.”
Long-term care facilities who meet the prerequisites and allow limited visitation must follow guidelines, which include:
• Making appointments prior to visiting and limiting the duration of visits;
• Limiting the number of visitors per resident and daily visitors per facility;
• Enforcing visitor social distancing and mask requirements; and,
• Screening all visitors with symptom and temperature checks immediately upon facility entry.
Long-term care facilities may utilize three options for limited resident visitation to take place:
• In an outdoor setting, weather permitting;
• Using a visitation booth or protective barrier; and,
• A resident’s room if the visitor documents a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to the visit.
Separate provisions for visitation involving accommodations for support for residents with disabilities and other critical assistance or end-of-life care also remain in effect.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there have been 28,340 confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout the state, with 18,922 recoveries and 441 deaths.