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MDH explains updated guidance for long term care facilities

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -- The new guidance Monday from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) regarding visiting people in long-term care facilities comes from updated federal guidance out last month.

At then end of September, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released nursing home specific guidance, opening up access for visitors.

"In light of these new federal guidance, that was specific to nursing homes, we are releasing updated visitation guidance for home care providers and assisted living facilities to line up consistently with CMS's guidance," said Lindsey Krueger, MDH Director of Health Facilities Complaints.

This means more people can go to see loved ones in facilities that have not had a COVID-19 exposure for 14 days.

"Facilities are in three risk categories, low, medium, and high based on community transmission as measured by county COVID-19 test positivity rates," Krueger said.

The broader access is for those low and medium risk facilities.

"We do have a memory care here, and the outdoor visits were great for some individuals but they still missed some of the closer contact," said Christine Dallmann, Executive Director of SpringBrook Village of La Cresent. "One of them really had an issue with window visits and couldn't understand the fact why her family member was outside the window and couldn't come inside and see her and it would just cause more agitation. So when we were able to broaden it to the caregiver visits and also the general visits, it was like a light came back on in her life and it really made a difference in the quality of their life."

Essential caregiver and compassionate care visits will remain unchanged. The same goes for window and outdoor visits.

"We do an update weekly to our families, residents, and staff to let them know what kind of level we're at and what kind of visitations that we can allow so that way we try to keep everybody as up-to-date as possible," Dallmann said.

The new guidance will take effect Saturday, Oct. 17. Visitors must continue to wear masks and use proper hand sanitation.

Sarah Gannon

Sarah Gannon

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