DHEC releases new guidelines for nursing home visitation
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– Governor Henry McMaster and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control released an update to the state’s visitation guidelines for nursing homes and community residential facilities.
The new guidelines from officials say that any facility that meets the following criteria must allow for indoor visitation:
- A less than or equal to 10 percent positivity rate in the county in which the facility is located, using DHEC’s data
- No COVID-19 cases among staff and/or residents in the past 14 days
- Maintained CMS’ core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention
“Too many South Carolinians have been prohibited from visiting their loved ones in long term care facilities because of overburdensome federal guidelines,” said Governor McMaster. “Prioritizing the physical health and safety of our most vulnerable citizens is critically important, but we must also protect their mental and emotional health. These updated guidelines represent important progress and will result in many facilities opening for visitation, but there’s more work to be done and we will continue pushing federal agencies to allow expanded visitation.”
According to officials, every single state nursing home has had their first vaccination clinic and 86% have had their second as well. Officials also say 98% of community residential facilities have had their first vaccination clinic, with 86% having their second.
“When COVID-19 first spread across the country, long-term care facilities were devastated as the virus took its toll on nursing home residents who were among the most vulnerable to the virus,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “In South Carolina, efforts had been underway to prepare long-term care facilities for the arrival of the virus, and DHEC has worked with facilities to help implement disease prevention protocols. Still, we lost many loved ones to this deadly virus. That’s why we prioritized nursing home residents among the first to be vaccinated, and after a massive statewide effort, nearly all long-term care facility residents in the state now have had the opportunity to get their life-saving shots.”
Officials say facilities should also continue to offer outdoor visitation, virtual visits and window visits.