COLUMBUS, Ohio — During a press conference Monday afternoon, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine addressed concerns many have had regarding nursing home and long-term care facility visitations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) criteria that determine when a nursing home or long-term care facility is allowed to hold visitation, there are three conditions a facility must meet.
- No new onset of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days;
- The facility is not currently conducting outbreak testing; and
- CMS reports the COVID-19 county positivity rate at less than 10 percent.
DeWine made it clear on Monday, however, that those conditions relate only to regular visitation and the compassionate care visits do not require those conditions to be met.
“Under the CMS guidance, compassionate care visits are always permitted,” DeWine said.
Compassionate care visits, defined by DeWine as “special visits in which a family member or other visitor provides comfort, support, and assistance to a resident whose well-being is suffering or at risk,” can be made regardless of the facility’s visitation status based on the CMS criteria.
DeWine also made it clear that compassionate care does not just refer to end-of-life situations, but encompassing many other situations including residents struggling with the change in their environment, residents who are grieving, residents with deteriorating conditions, residents not responding well to virtual visits, and residents experiencing emotional distress, among many others.
The governor said that to ensure nursing homes and long-term care facilities are aware of visitation criteria, all facilities in the state will receive a letter from his office reminding them to check the county positivity rate each week to determine their visitation status and to allow for compassionate care visits.
Ohioans struggling to make a compassionate care visit at the facility a loved one is staying in can call 1-800-282-1206 or email OhioOmbudsman@age.ohio.gov.
The state also has a dashboard of Ohio nursing home facilities and their visitation status that can be found here.