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COVID-19 and Nursing Homes

By Nicole Hawks

March 25, 2020

Early on, the current pandemic crisis hit many of America’s nursing homes and long-term care communities hard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) has issued a preparedness checklist for all such facilities including some of the following:

  • Rapid identification and management of ill residents
  • Considerations for visitors and consultant staff
  • Supplies and resources
  • Sick leave policies and other occupational health considerations
  • Education and training
  • Surge capacity for staffing, equipment and supplies, and postmortem care

Further, the CDC has updated its guidelines and recommends that nursing homes do the following:

  • Restrict all visitation except for certain compassionate care situations, such as end-of-life situations
  • Restrict all volunteers and non-essential healthcare personal
  • Cancel all group activities and communal dining
  • Implement active screening of residents and healthcare personnel for fever and respiratory symptoms

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) have also stated that nursing home visitation should be strictly limited and group activities and communal dining canceled. CMS also gave some advice for families with a loved one in a nursing home:

  • Provide encouragement by connecting with your loved one in an old-fashioned way- writing a letter or making a phone call
  • Communicate via Skype or FaceTime
  • Play games via live electronic interaction

Social distancing, as well as self-quarantine, are essential to reducing COVID-19 impact. Although this is especially difficult if you have a loved one in a nursing home or long-term care community, these best practices are saving lives.

Following are several helpful links:

CDC’s COVID-19 page:

CMS’s COVID-19 resources:

Virtual Games Article:

Social Distancing Article:

For anyone who has a loved one in a nursing home or a loved one who needs nursing home care, please do not hesitate to reach out to Critchfield, Critchfield and Johnston, Ltd. Our experienced and compassionate elder law attorneys stand ready to help families through these challenging times.

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