COLUMBUS, Ohio — The state of Ohio is expanding nursing home visitation to allow for indoor visits beginning Oct. 12 and intermediate care facilities to begin indoor visits beginning Sept. 28.
As the weather gets cooler, the state understood outdoor visitations would be less accommodating and came up with a plan to safely reintroduce indoor visitations.
Visitors are asked to keep their distance, wear a mask, wash their hands and, most importantly, stay home if they feel ill.
Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy said that with flu season approaching it’s critical to stay vigilant and take caution when visiting a nursing home to prevent COVID-19 or flu outbreaks.
“Always remember that you're walking into the home of not only your loved one, but into the home of their friends and others,” McElroy said.
In addition to the basic guidelines of wearing a mask and hand washing, McElroy said Ohioans should also be paying attention to the level of spread happening in their area of the state, because that puts them at higher risk of spreading the virus when they go out.
In order for nursing homes to begin indoor visitations, the facility will need to evaluate its readiness to do so, taking into account the case status in the surrounding community, the case status within the facility itself, the amount of testing available at the facility, the amount of personal protective equipment at the facility and the local hospital capacity.
Health screening of all staff and visitors upon entering the facility and keeping a daily log of people who enter the building will be required and visits will be required to be scheduled in advance, McElroy said.
Indoor visitation at nursing homes will be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes each, allowing for “meaningful interaction” while allowing more families to come and visit with time for the facility to clean and sanitize between them.
In addition to indoor visitation at nursing homes, the state has worked to allow communal activities within nursing homes to allow residents to eat together and participate in activities together.
Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities Director Jeff Davis announced that intermediate care facilities would begin allowing indoor visitation on Sept. 28 and said that the guidelines issued for nursing home indoor visitation will be similar to what intermediate care facilities will use to guide their resumption of indoor visits.