State expands visitation to nursing homes

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By Jan Greene, Crain’s Detroit Business, June 30 2020

Michigan has expanded the reasons for visitation at long-term care facilities to include family members or friends who assist residents with activities of daily life such as eating, bathing or dressing.

People have been able to visit residents who are in serious or critical condition or in hospice care under previous state emergency orders if they follow guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The visitation order issued Tuesday by Robert Gordon, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services applies to nursing homes, homes for the aged, adult foster care facilities, hospice facilities, substance abuse disorder residential facilities, independent living facilities and assisted living facilities.

Visitors to these types of facilities have been restricted to slow the spread of COVID-19. Nursing homes have experienced high rates of positive coronavirus cases, and one-third of the 6,100 deaths in Michigan were nursing home residents.

“It’s been very difficult for residents of these facilities to be unable to see their loved ones during the pandemic,” Gordon said. “We are glad Michigan can now allow visits in some circumstances, but we continue to urge caution and require safety precautions like wearing masks during visits.”

Under executive order 72, Michigan has previously allowed limited visits from the family with a nursing home resident who is in serious or critical care. Besides undergoing a health evaluation, permitted visitors must wear face coverings and maintain a space of 6 feet between themselves and residents.

A second order applies to youth in group settings – known as child caring institutions – and juvenile detention facilities. It also includes youth who are in foster care.

The youth order allows youth residents to have off-campus visits to a parent, foster parent or prospective adoptive parent if the person or persons being visited agree in advance to abide by safety measures as recommended by the CDC to reduce exposure to COVID-19.