Editor's note: A previous version of this story reported numbers for Hanceville Nursing Home and Rehabilitation from over a 6 month time period. There are currently no positive cases at the nursing home with one employee testing positive after contracting the virus while on vacation.
The president and CEO of the Alabama Nursing Home Association said in-person visitation at nursing homes will continue to be prohibited for the time being.
“A number of family members of nursing home residents have been asking when facilities can reopen visitation," said Brandon Farmer. "The Alabama Nursing Home Association and its members are working toward our goal of reopening nursing homes to family and friends. We know it is important for our residents and their loved ones to have in-person visits."
He said the association's top priority remains ensuring the health and safety of staff and residents. "We want to be confident that we have made in-person visits as safe as possible before reopening," he said. "The last thing we want to do is jeopardize this progress and have to close our doors again after reopening them for visitation."
Nursing homes report cases among staff and residents to the CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network. As of Aug. 9, the last available reporting week, Cullman Health Center reported no cases among residents and one confirmed case among staff; Folsom Center reported three confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents and nine confirmed cases among staff; Woodland Nursing Home reported three residents testing positive for the virus, one resident death and four confirmed cases among staff; and Hanceville Nursing Home and Rehabilitation reported no cases among residents and one employee testing positive for COVID-19.
Because the population is the most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, state and federal agencies directed nursing homes to close their doors to visitation.
“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance in May on reopening nursing homes but cautioned that facilities should be among the last parts of a community to reopen to ensure the safety of residents," said Farmer. "CMS said nursing homes must consider the status of COVID-19 cases in their community and facility, access to PPE, testing for residents and staff and other factors before reopening. In-person visits must not allow for physical contact, maintain social distancing and visitors must be screened and wear a face covering.
“The Alabama Nursing Home Association is encouraging its members to allow in-person visitation within CMS and Alabama Department of Public Health parameters as soon as they are safely able to do so. We know our members will find creative ways to conduct safe, outdoor visits. I must stress that nursing homes care for people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 and must protect the health and safety of residents and staff. Reopening will be a deliberate process and depends greatly on the status of the disease in the local community. We appreciate the patience and understanding of families as we care for their loved ones and look forward to seeing them soon.”