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Limited visitation now allowed at nursing and long-term care facilities, says Texas HHSC

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has announced limited visitation and enhanced emergency rules for nursing and long-term care facilities.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has announced a critical first step for every person in a long-term care facility and their loved ones. 

Texas HHSC is now allowing limited visitation rules for nursing and long-term care facilities

“Access to family and loved ones is an important part of every resident’s health and well-being, which is why this policy shift is a move in the right direction for some of our most fragile Texans,” said Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.

At nursing facilities, public visitation is limited to outdoor visits only and visitors are not allowed to have physical contact with residents. 

Each facility must also meet the guidelines below: 

  • No confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in staff in the last 14 days.
  • No active positive cases in residents.
  • Any facility previously experiencing an outbreak that has fully recovered must be adequately staffed and following adequate infection control procedures.
  • Facility staff are being tested for COVID-19 weekly.

Guidelines for long-term care facilities are slightly different. Outdoor and indoor visitation is allowed, but like nursing facilities, physical contact isn't allowed. 

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Below are the additional rules a long-term facility must follow before allowing visitations: 

  • No confirmed COVID-19 positive staff in last 14 days.
  • No active positive cases in residents.
  • Adequate staffing to facilitate visitation in compliance with infection control requirements.
  • Use of plexiglass as a safety barrier for indoor visitation to prevent spread of COVID-19.

On Thursday, the HHSC also announced enhanced emergency rules for nursing facilities. 

  • Each facility must have a COVID-19 response plan that includes designated staff to work with cohorts of residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. Staff should not change designation from one day to another, unless required to maintain adequate staffing for a cohort. 
  • All nursing facilities must screen all residents, staff, and people who come to the facility. 
  • Each resident must be screened at least three times a day for signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Each facility must have plans for obtaining and maintaining a two-week supply of personal protective equipment and resident recovery plans for continuing care when a resident recovers from COVID-19.

“This is a rapidly evolving situation and we are constantly assessing what actions are necessary to keep residents and staff safe in these facilities,” said Phil Wilson, executive commissioner of the Texas HHSC. “By following these procedures and rules, facilities can more effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help us achieve our shared goal of reuniting residents with their families and friends.”

Texas HHSC continues to investigate all long-term care facilities in the state that report one or more positive cases of COVID-19. 

The latest guidance is posted here.

WATCH: Inside the Austin nursing home hit by the COVID-19 pandemic

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