Governor Baker’s office announced on Friday, November 6, a series of additional measures aimed at protecting older residents in long-term care facilities.
The Department of Public Health [DPH] has updated guidance on visitation that requires facilities to allow visits of no shorter than 45 minutes. Previous guidance enabled facilities to limit the length of a visit to 30 minutes.
Facilities are also enabled to use point of care rapid antigen testing for visitors.
Facilities must still enable visits at least five days per week, with at least one of those days being over the weekend and visitation hours outside normal business hours on at least one day.
Temporary Admission Freezes
The DPH has new authority to freeze admissions to nursing homes and rest homes to prevent and contain uncontrolled transmission of COVID-19. During an admissions freeze, a facility must stop admitting any new residents until conditions within the facility improve.
The factors considered for freezing admissions to a facility include:
COVID-19 cases within the facility
Failure to report a lack of adequate PPE, supplies or staff
Infection control survey results
Surveillance testing compliance
Additional Reporting Requirements
The new set of initiatives also requires nursing homes to report staffing levels on a bi-weekly basis starting on November 27. This requirement was introduced in the Nursing Facility Accountability and Supports Package 2.0 released on September 10.
The DPH also updated guidance to establish clear reporting deadlines that emphasize the importance of vaccination early in the influenza season while further defining financial penalties for non-compliance.