Oklahoma nursing homes and long-term care facilities suspend medically unnecessary visitation
Following new guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Oklahoma’s skilled nursing facilities and long-term care facilities are expected to suspend all medically unnecessary visits indefinitely while the state works to contain the COVID-19 virus. As a memo released late last week by CMS says, their new guidance “directs nursing homes to significantly restrict visitors and nonessential personnel, as well as restrict communal activities inside nursing homes. The new measures are CMS’s latest action to protect America’s seniors, who are at highest risk for complications from COVID-19. While visitor restrictions may be difficult for residents and families, it is an important temporary measure for their protection.”
Medically necessary visits include appointments with doctors or other medical practitioners as well as hospice service providers. Families wishing to visit loved ones are asked to communicate through letters, phone or teleconference technology like FaceTime, which many homes are working to facilitate.
Steve Buck, president and chief executive officer of Care Providers Oklahoma, the trade association representing Oklahoma’s skilled nursing facilities, said the decision was made to save lives and protect the health of residents.
“We take the threat of COVID-19 especially seriously, as our population of elderly Oklahomans is particularly vulnerable to this disease. The fact of the matter is, the greatest threats to the health and wellbeing of our residents are visitors, many of whom are loved ones. We do not take the decision to suspend visitation lightly; we do so only because it gives us the best chance to save lives and protect those who are in our care.”
Buck also thanked families for their patience and understanding during a difficult time.
“We know we are asking spouses, children, grandchildren and others to forgo visiting their loved ones,” he said. “It’s a difficult thing to ask and an even more difficult thing to do. We are enormously grateful for the understanding and patience we have already been shown as we fight this virus and work to keep it out of our facilities.”
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