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SC nursing homes to allow indoor visits, DHEC releases guidelines

The new guidelines also state that in some situations, “compassionate care visits” must be allowed regardless of the facility’s visitation policy.
The new guidelines also state that in some situations, “compassionate care visits” must be allowed regardless of the facility’s visitation policy.(WAFF)
Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 2:48 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Health officials have released guidelines to allow indoor visits at nursing homes and other long-term health care facilities in South Carolina.

The new guidelines from the Department of Health and Environmental Control also state that in some situations, “compassionate care visits” must be allowed regardless of the facility’s visitation policy.

Compassionate care visits are meant to put the emotional wellbeing of residents first

For example, if a resident is in an end-of-life situation, showing signs of distress or depression, or grieving a recent family member’s death -- compassionate care visits are allowed.

In other situations, indoor and outdoor visits may be permitted, with some limitations.

First, this decision does not mean all nursing homes will immediately allow indoor visits, but once they meet certain criteria they can choose to allow indoor visits.

Each facility must establish its own visitation policy and communicate that with residents' family members.

Facilities must also establish a schedule for visitation so appointments are made in advance of visits. That will allow facilities to stagger visitors and make sure all involved can stick to the guidelines.

As with outdoor visits, indoor visits will still be limited in time (30 minutes) and only two people may visit a patient at one time.

Visitors must allow a facility to screen them for symptoms of COVID-19, wear a face covering, social distance and use proper hand hygiene, according to the new guidance.

A full list of facility and visitor requirements are listed in the PDF at the bottom of this story.

Some long-term care residents will not be allowed to have visitors under the new guidelines.

Residents who are in quarantine due to a recent COVID-19 diagnosis or who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 may not have visitors except in “compassionate care” situations (as described above).

DHEC says facilities may not prohibit indoor or outdoor visits unless “a reasonable clinical or safety cause is present.” Those include a facility’s COVID-19 status, a resident having COVID-19 and the county where the facility is having a positivity rate above 10%.

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