CMS Removes All Nursing Home Visitation Restrictions as COVID-19 Cases Decrease

November 17, 2021Articles

In order to continue addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on nursing home residents, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued a memo updating guidance for nursing home visitation. You can read the full memo here.

Early in the pandemic, CMS implemented visitation restrictions to mitigate the risk of visitors introducing COVID-19 to nursing homes. Now, CMS is updating its guidance and allowing visitation for residents at all times. CMS explained its decision to allow visitation is based upon data which shows approximately 86% of residents and 74% of staff are fully vaccinated, and the number of new COVID-19 cases each week in nursing homes has dramatically decreased.

Under the new guidance, nursing homes cannot limit the frequency and length of visits for residents, the number of visitors, or require advance scheduling of visits as mandated under the previous guidance. However, CMS is still directing nursing homes to follow infection-control policies and procedures. Visitors who have tested positive for COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19, or currently meet the criteria for quarantine, should not enter the facility. Nursing homes should still screen all visitors before entry.

Although not required, CMS is encouraging nursing homes in counties with substantial or high levels of community transmission to offer testing to visitors, if feasible. Nursing homes should also educate and encourage visitors to become vaccinated. Visitors should still wear face coverings and social distance at all times while in the nursing home. Nursing homes should stay diligent in their infection-control efforts.

If you have questions relating to nursing home compliance, please contact Sydney N. Pahren or Timothy J. Cahill.