Just as Tennessee rolled out a plan Thursday to increase visitation to nursing homes, the federal government issued its own revised rules in responding to the improving coronavirus infection rates. And they’re not optional, says Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma.
“It is a requirement,” Verma says. “If you’re in part of the country where there is not significant spread — you’re in a green zone or yellow zone, which means the positivity rate is below 10% — then, yes, you have to facilitate visitation. I mean that’s part of the responsibility to the patient to ensure that they have quality of life.”
On Thursday, Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey stressed that visitation would still be up to the individual nursing home, if administrators thought it couldn’t be done safely.
Otherwise, Tennessee’s new rules largely align with the federal guidance that happened to be issued on the same day. Piercey said she had been waiting nearly a month for federal guidance but decided to move ahead anyway. A health department spokesperson says the agency is reviewing to determine whether any updates are required.
The state’s rules take effect Oct. 1. For facilities that haven’t had a new coronavirus case among staff or residents in 14 days, visitors can be welcomed immediately.