On Friday, July 10, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and our state’s Department of Health issued the first round of guidance to allow visitation in nursing homes, pediatric nursing homes, and other adult care facilities. Unfortunately, the details were somewhat confusing and caused several media outlets to publish misleading or conflicting reports. I will attempt to clear up some of this confusion as it relates to our campus and levels of care as well as address what visitation will begin to look like for us in the wake of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
First, please keep in mind that although the media often refers to every adult care facility as a “nursing home,” we have two different levels of care on our campus with two different levels of guidance to follow: a nursing home (Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center) and an assisted living program (Hultquist Place). Each facility has to follow its own requirements for reopening to visitation which may not coincide with the other during this time of transition. A state association we are a member of estimates that 10% or less of state nursing homes will meet the criteria to reopen. At this time, our nursing home does NOT meet the criteria. Based on where we are now and the criteria that needs to be met, Hultquist Place will likely open to visitation BEFORE the nursing home on our campus. However once visitation is open at either facility, there will be regulations for how many people can visit any one resident, how many people can visit campus per day, and where people can visit with their loved ones among other things.
Second, the state outlined that as long as our region remains in Phase 3 of the reopening process, adult care facilities like assisted living programs may begin visitation immediately while nursing homes may begin visitation on Wednesday, July 15. The key word of those statements is may. One overlooked and critical piece of information that the media failed to report over the weekend is that all adult care facilities must submit a reopening plan. Those reopening plans must be submitted to the department of health before opening to visitation. Reopening plans must follow all guidance provided by the department of health, which we just received, so visitation will be delayed on our campus beyond July 15.
Lastly, an optimistic picture was painted for the masses based on this misinformation. Photos that accompanied those articles depicted family members and their loved ones, arm in arm, enjoying a regular visit that would have taken place before COVID-19 shook our society. This will not be the immediate reality that we will face. There will be many new precautions and procedures to consider when you come to campus to visit with your loved ones after we reopen. Those new procedures will essentially combine our window visit requirements along with some others that may or may not include: wearing face masks, remaining socially distant, use of hand sanitizer, no physical contact (including hugs and kisses), and others we’re currently developing.
Our administrators and key personnel are working hard on reopening plans for each facility as I write this letter. As we work toward meeting all criteria required of us, we will keep you posted on our progress including development of the visitation plans. Please use our hotline and keep an eye on your mailbox for future communications. We’re almost there… your patience is and always has been appreciated!
President and CEO