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COVID-19: NJ Long-Term Care Residents Who Go Home For Holidays Might Not Get Right Back In

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli Photo Credit: NJSP

New Jersey's health commissioner urged families not to take residents out of long-term care facilities for the holidays -- and warned that they might not get right back in if they do – as the number of COVID-19 cases statewide continue to spike.

Guidelines issued by Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli include a mandatory 14-day quarantine for any long-term care resident, either in their own room or in an observation room, once they return to the facility after a family visit.

For that reason, Persichilli urged the facilities to create a “reservation list,” as well as a waiting list, based on the number of residents who can be quarantined at a time.

Administrators were also told to tell families that residents who leave without a reservation or while on a waiting list “may not be guaranteed readmittance to the facility at the end of their visit.”

“We remain concerned about the number of outbreaks we are seeing in long-term care,” Persichilli said, “so we need to be especially vigilant to protect this population.

“Small family gatherings are a significant driver of increasing cases, and bringing your loved ones home could put them at risk,” she added.

Residents of these facilities “are being treated for conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to suffering the most serious complications of COVID-19 infection, including death,” the commissioner wrote in a letter to facility administrators across the state.

“To protect the health of this vulnerable population,” she “strongly recommended” that families not take residents out of the facilities for “holiday celebration events or gatherings.”

Instead, Persichilli recommended “visitation outdoors or possibly indoors in facilities that meet the requirements for indoor visitation.

Long-term care facilities also should “plan to accommodate increased virtual communications for residents,” she said.

The facilities “need to develop a plan for holiday visits and gatherings” that estimate the number of residents who can be placed into a 14-day quarantine from Nov. 25 through Dec. 31, the commissioner added in her “guidance” letter.

They should also “create a reservation process tied to the number of individuals the facility can quarantine on their return,” she wrote. “A waiting list should be created once the reservation list is full.

“However, residents and families should be informed that residents who leave without a reservation or while on a waiting list may not be guaranteed readmittance to the facility at the end of their visit.

“Residents and families must certify that they will follow masking, social distancing and hand hygiene practices, and that they will notify the facility if anyone who attended the holiday gathering tests positive for COVID-19 or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days of the resident’s visit/stay outside the facility,” Persichilli added.

A link to the entire guidance letter is below.

CLICK HERE for: NJ Long-Term Care Holiday Visiting Guidelines

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