Latest CANHR Alert

Omicron Leads to Visitation Lockouts Throughout the State

On December 31, the Department of Public Health issued an order requiring all nursing home and assisted living facility visitors to provide proof of a negative COVID test before visiting with their loved ones.  Due to the difficulty in finding tests, the new rule has led to widespread lockouts in many facilities, casting residents into the depressing isolation.  Shortly thereafter, the State permitted COVID-positive long term care facility staff to continue to come to work, creating a ridiculous situation where COVID-positive staff are providing care to residents while vaccinated and boosted visitors who do not have COVID are locked out.

Compounding the State’s missteps, a lack of enforcement regarding visitation has led to facilities across the state illegally shutting down all visitation, leaving residents and visitors scratching their heads.  Long term care facilities are not allowed to shut down visitation at their discretion.  If your facility has shut down all visitation, immediately file a complaint with the Department of Public Health (for nursing homes) or the Department of Social Services (for assisted living – email complaint to letusno@dss.ca.gov)

Visitation Shut-Down – What to Do

A state public health order went into effect today that essentially shut down visitation in long term care facilities in California.  The order requires all visitors to have a negative COVID test in the past 2 days (PCR tests) or 1 day (antigen tests) in order to visit.  Given the substantial challenges to test access, this is tantamount to a visitation lockout.

The new visitation lockout is abominable and exasperating, especially given that:

  1. The testing requirement being applied to visitors does not apply to the facility staff.  Even unvaccinated staff have less stringent testing requirements than vaccinated visitors.
  2. Visitors were not required to show negative test results when the COVID death rate in long term care facilities was exponentially higher in 2020-21 and that was before residents and visitors were vaccinated.  
  3. The testing requirements expressly do NOT apply to hospital visits.
  4. Federal law prohibits facilities from requiring COVID testing of visitors. (CMS QSO 20-39-NH, pp 5-6)

We encourage all long term care facility residents and their loved ones to urge the federal and state governments to eliminate the state testing requirements for fully vaccinated visitors.  Send your requests to Cassie Dunham, acting Deputy Director of the state Center for Health Care Quality and Rufus Arther at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  

Rufus.Arther@cms.hhs.gov  /  Cassie.Dunham@cdph.ca.gov

Please send copies of your messages to your state Senator and Assemblymember. You can find your representatives here: https://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/

At CANHR, we are doing all that we can to end the visitation lockout but we need your help.

CANHR Zoom Town Halls

The Roller Coaster Continues – Long Term Care Facility Visitation, February 2022 Updates

This CANHR webinar provides an update about the current policies and problems with visitation in long term care facilities. On February 7, the State Department of Public Health issued new guidance for nursing homes and for assisted living facilities that basically re-set visitation to the pre-Omicron policies but with some important changes.

In this webinar, we inform participants and viewers of the current state of the visitation rules, explain how advocacy can be used to gain more visitation access, and answer key visitation questions.

Thank you to our guest speakers from the Essential Caregivers Coalition.

CANHR Press Conferences

CANHR Press Conference January 12 2022

On January 7, a new state policy went into effect requiring visitors of long term care facility residents to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test. Due to testing shortages throughout the state, the new policy is equivalent to a lockout of critical resident visitors. The lockout is particularly dangerous as visitors commonly provide essential caregiving to residents and arrives at a time when widespread staffing shortages are expected in facilities. The testing policy defies federal law and is creating more harm than good.

Speakers at the press conference briefly reviewed the visitation testing requirement, explained why it is irrational and dangerous, and recounted how it is affecting their own ability to visit with loved ones.

Thank you to our guest speakers from the Essential Caregivers Coalition.