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:
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.
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.
The testing requirements expressly do NOT apply to hospital visits.
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.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in a September 21, 2021 press release that it has added a new feature to its Care Compare website to make it easier to check COVID-19 vaccination rates for nursing home staff and residents. The information is intended to help people make informed decisions when choosing a nursing home. To access the vaccination rate data, search a nursing home’s zip code or city on Care Compare, click on the name of the nursing home, then scroll down to click “View COVID-19 Vaccination Rates” to see the data. The information is intended to help people make informed decisions when choosing a nursing home.
CMS is updating the data weekly. Medicare and Medi-Cal certified nursing homes have been required to report weekly COVID-19 vaccination data for both residents and staff since May, and CMS has been posting the information on the CMS COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website. The new vaccination rate tool on Care Compare is in addition to the data being posted on the COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website.
CANHR Zoom Town Halls
Ho, Ho, No: Visitation in Long Term Care Facilities During the Holidays
On November 29th CANHR held a Town Hall for California residents of long term care facilities, their families, and their friends, to discuss the state of resident visitation rights for the holidays.
Many of you attended and participated – thank you! If you were unable to attend, not to worry, you can now watch the recording via the link above, or by visiting our website (it is currently posted on the front page). We hope this town hall provides some useful information that helps you in the difficult task of navigating the maze of (re)gaining visitation access in California’s nursing homes.
Contacts to email your concerns to at the California Department of Health:
By Kristen Hwang, CalMatters, January 24 2022 A sign at The Pines at Placerville Healthcare Center honors its workers. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters About 11,500 long-term care center workers are now sick with COVID. “It’s been like one coworker after another, after another, everyone getting sick,” one nursing assistant said. Four days after Celine started working as a nursing assistant in the COVID-19 unit at a Placerville nursing home, she tested positive for the virus.