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Ohio Orders Nursing Homes To Allow Visitations In Most Cases

In this March 6, 2020, photo, tissues, gloves, and masks greet visitors at the South Shore Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center, in Rockland, Mass.
David Goldman
/
Associated Press
In this March 6, 2020, photo, tissues, gloves, and masks greet visitors at the South Shore Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center, in Rockland, Mass.

Gov. Mike DeWine says a new health order will mandate nursing homes and assisted living facilities allow visits when there  is not a COVID outbreak.

Currently in Ohio, nursing home visitors need to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms at the front door, need to sign in, wear masks and schedule those visits in advance.

“We are requiring the nursing homes and assisted living to have visitation whenever circumstances are met, the criteria is met," DeWine said Monday.

Following updated guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, DeWine says the new order spells out that hugging is allowed between vaccinated people, visits can happen in resident’s rooms, and visits must be allowed for at least 30 minutes.  

The order also expands the circumstances for compassionate care visits, which are permitted in all cases, regardless of an outbreak. Among the examples given are residents who are experiencing emotional distress, grieving after family or a friend passed away, were re-admitted after a hospital stay, has a new order for anti-psychotic or anti-depressant medication, or whose dementia has dramatically progressed.

At the same time, the state is requiring vaccinated staff to be tested once per week, and un-vaccinated staff tested twice a week. Although nursing home workers were among the first groups to access the COVID-19 vaccine, many refused. Vaccinations will continue to be offered to staff who haven't opted to do so.

Newly calculated death totals show around 38% of all COVID deaths in Ohio have come from nursing homes.