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S.C. governor unveils new guidelines for nursing home visitations

The Nursing Home Association said Wednesday they are working as a group toward the goal of...
The Nursing Home Association said Wednesday they are working as a group toward the goal of reopening nursing homes to family and friends.(Source: Gray DC)
Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 6:13 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - After months of restricted visits, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and DHEC unveiled new guidelines for nursing home visits as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

During a Tuesday afternoon news conference, McMaster detailed DHEC’s guidelines.

“The time has come,” McMaster said. “Based on what we’ve learned, what we’ve experienced, to reunite our family members, loved ones, and caregivers safely as best we can.”

Visitations at long-term care facilities have been restricted since March to end-of-life visits on a case-by-case basis.

Over the summer, families of nursing home residents have pushed for the restrictions to be loosened.

On Aug. 21, McMaster requested DHEC move forward on the guidelines.

The same day, DHEC sent WIS the following statement:

“We recognize that social isolation can have serious negative impacts on the health and well-being of residents in long-term care facilities and their loved ones. To balance the strong desire of residents and their family members to communicate in person with the need to protect these vulnerable residents from COVID-19, we will be providing guidelines to nursing homes detailing the process to allow limited visitation. Visitation will be phased in based on the disease levels in the facility and in the surrounding community. These criteria, phases, and guidelines will be based on the most recent CMS and CDC guidance for reopening nursing homes which include access to resources like PPE and testing requirements for facilities in order to reopen to visitation.

The plan will be ready for the Governor’s review and will be shared with the public next week.”

McMaster made a similar request in late June, but in July requested DHEC wait due to COVID-19 concerns.

Trish Mozdzierz said she is the daughter of a Midlands nursing home resident and is excited about the news. She spoke with WIS before the announcement and said she wants to see her mother.

“There’s no good reason for it honestly. There could be a compromise. There are solutions. We have given the governor solutions. We don’t need wide-open, full-blown everybody coming and going. We just want reasonable accommodations,” she said.

DHEC is reporting that since April 3, 1,011 patients and 18 staffers have died at long-term care facilities due to COVID-19.

Symmes said the news conference will be at 2 p.m. at the State House.

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