Nursing homes can begin outside visitation on July 20, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced June 29.
"It is our goal to be able to have people visit their families in nursing homes across the state of Ohio," DeWine said.
The nursing homes need to start preparing to safely facilitate outdoor visitation. To start, the state – with help from the Ohio National Guard – is in the process of conducting COVID-19 testing every nursing home, DeWine said.
"Our longterm goal is to test every facility and then have the staff continue to be tested, and we're working with the nursing homes to be sure that that happens," DeWine said. "Once the nursing home has been cleared and the testing has taken place, the facilities can open for visitation."
When assessing their readiness to permit outdoor visitation, nursing homes should consider:
- Case status in community
- Case status in nursing home
- Staffing levels
- Access to adequate testing for residents/staff
- Personal protective equipment supplies
- Hospital capacity
DeWine said they are confident that the approach provides each facility the flexibility needed to assess their readiness to safely facilitate outdoor visitation – and to do so in a transparent way that keeps residents and families informed.
The decision to move forward with outdoor visitation considered requests from families and residents and the impact on the quality of life that a prolonged loss of connection can have on an individual, the governor said. The plan was made in consultation with advocates and providers in the aging and development disabilities communities.
Guidelines for visitation were jointly developed by the Academy for Senior Health Sciences, Leading Age Ohio, the Ohio Assisted Living Association, the Ohio Health Care Association, and the Ohio Medical Directors Association, according to a news release from the governor's office.
The order and related guidance will be available at coronavirus.ohio.gov. Anyone with questions about visiting loved ones can always contact the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, an office within the Ohio Department of Aging, at 1-800-282-1206.