California

Newsom opens the door for nursing homes to allow family visitation

One day after shutting down bars in select counties due to a spike in coronavirus cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California skilled nursing facilities can begin to allow visitors if they meet certain criteria outlined by the state. 

The California Department of Public Health sent guidance to the counties on June 26 detailing how visitation in nursing homes could occur in a low-risk way, since the facilities have been locked down during the coronavirus pandemic. 

In Newsom’s coronavirus briefing Monday, California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the state feels that it is at the point where visitation can be done in a safe way. 

“We recognize the need and frankly the demand of loved ones to be able to not just visit but participate in the care and nourishment of those family members in skilled nursing facilities,” Ghaly said. 

“This has always been an asset to the facilities, the families and the residents to continue on the road to better and improved health and happiness, and over the period of COVID, the last few months, we know it has been very hard to see that diminished an altogether forbidden while we try to contain spread.” 

Throughout the pandemic, the only visitation allowed has been for end of life situations. 

Now, facilities that meet the following conditions can allow residents to designate one visitor per resident for inside visitation: 

  • Case conditions in the community: There is a decline in the number of new cases, hospitalizations or deaths in the community. 
  • Case status in the facility: Absence of any new COVID-19 cases in the facility for 14 days, either residents or staff. 
  • Adequate staffing: No staffing shortages and the facility is not using a COVID-19 staffing waiver. 
  • Access to adequate testing: The facility has a testing plan in place in compliance with the state. 
  • An approved COVID-19 mitigation plan: The facility must maintain good regulatory compliance for safety. 

If the facilities do not meet those conditions, they can provide outdoor and other visitation and other options that follow social distancing guidelines. 

“I hope that over the days and weeks to come that in a lower risk way we can begin to provide visitation to certain family members to not just see loved ones but support the care that they need,” Ghaly said. 

The full guidance can be found here.

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.