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CMS Issues New Guidance for Nursing Homes in Light of COVID-19 Spread - March 16, 2020

On Friday, March 13, CMS issued new guidance for nursing homes in light of the spread of COVID-19. Nursing homes in all states are to restrict all visitors and non-essential health care personnel except for compassionate care situations, such as an end of life situation. If an exception is made for end of life, it should be done on a case by case basis after screening the visitors for temperature and respiratory symptoms. Additionally, the visitors are to be allowed in the resident’s room only with proper hand hygiene and use of PPE. 

Notably, CMS is requiring visitors in this situation to wear a face mask but does not require the facility to provide the face mask. To conserve PPE for staff, we are not recommending nursing homes provide face masks to visitors. 

Nursing homes are also to:

  • Screen staff at the beginning and end of their shift for fever and respiratory symptoms 
  • Cancel communal dining and all group activities, such as internal and external activities
  • Implement active screening of residents and staff for fever and respiratory symptoms
  • Remind residents to practice social distancing and perform frequent hand hygiene 

Our Coronavirus Resources webpage offers additional information for long-term care facilities, hospitals, and other businesses including Five Things Hospitals & Nursing Homes Should Do Now.

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