Alabama Nursing Home Association President & CEO Brandon Farmer announced Saturday new visitation restrictions designed to protect Alabama’s most vulnerable citizens from COVID-19.
“With a national state of emergency declared by the President, the Alabama Nursing Home Association is urging all nursing homes in the state to follow the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) new guidance to restrict visitation of residents,” Farmer said.
The new CMS guidance was published on Friday, March 13. Nursing homes “should restrict visitation of all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations, such as an end-of-life situation. In those cases, visitors will be limited to a specific room only.”
CMS also directs nursing homes to cancel communal dining and group activities and actively screen residents and staff for respiratory symptoms.
Alabama nursing homes have been practicing protective protocols similar to the new CMS guidance for several days. On Thursday, the Alabama Political Reporter spoke to one North Alabama nursing home official who said that they were calling all family members of nursing home residents and asking that they not visit for at least, the next two weeks.
Officials say that these actions are imperative because nursing homes serve people who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
“Protecting the health and well-being of those in our care at all times and the protection of the general public during this health-related emergency are our priority,” Farmer explained. “We know this is a difficult time for our residents and their family members. Please know that nursing home staff are committed to helping families and residents communicate during this time. The Alabama Nursing Home Association respectfully asks for your patience, understanding and cooperation.”
COVID-19 is extremely fatal to older people.
As of press time, 2,499 Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 51 have died. The first case was in Washington State on January 21. 37 of the deaths have been in Washington where 510 persons have contracted the disease. Most of those deaths trace to an outbreak at one nursing home there.
The illness first appeared in humans in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China late in 2019. Globally 5,619 people have perished thus far in this global pandemic, most of them in China, Italy, and Iran.
The Alabama Nursing Home Association was founded in 1951, the Alabama Nursing Home Association represents 94 percent of the state’s nursing homes. It is Alabama’s oldest and largest long-term and post-acute care trade organization.