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As Illinois Nursing Homes Allow for Outdoor Visitors, Family Members Can Look Out for Signs of Distress

COVID-19 is still spreading in Illinois with officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reporting 715 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, June 24, while deaths increased by 64. That brings the total cases in Illinois to 138,540, including 6,770 deaths, in 101 Illinois counties. Infections at long-term care facilities comprise nearly 16% of the state’s total cases, but nursing home residents who have died from the virus make up more than 55% of the state’s fatalities. IDPH has started to require testing of residents and staff members at those facilities, and recently announced new measures which allow for nursing home visitors to meet with residents and loved ones under strict precautions.

In a released statement by IDPH on June 18, 2020, Illinois long-term care facilities may begin to allow outdoor visitation for residents when certain conditions are met. Visits to Illinois nursing homes have been restricted since mid-March.

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What kinds of social distancing measures are nursing homes taking at this stage of the pandemic?

CMS guidelines have eliminated all communal meals and activities to limit residents’ contact with each other and allow facilities to repurpose communal spaces (like activity rooms) to spread residents out. Likewise, CMS is prohibiting visitation by family and friends, advocates and non-essential health care providers. The only exception is for “compassionate situations,” including but not limited to end-of-life visitation. Visitors making compassionate visits will be required to wear personal protective equipment, comply with other safety measures and refrain from physical contact. Finally, a person exhibiting any respiratory symptoms whatsoever will not be allowed to visit.

Facilities should already be following longstanding CDC guidelines for infection prevention. Here are some questions that can guide your inquiry into whether they currently comply with the rules.

Coronavirus disease is highly infectious and caused by a new virus that is leading to a deadly respiratory illness for at-risk populations, especially nursing home residents. During this challenging time, The Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term care has proven to be an excellent resource to those who have been isolated in a nursing home or elder community and their concerned family members. Please review and share the organization’s guidance in the hope of preventing the spread of coronavirus near you.

Coronavirus Prevention Tips for Long-Term Care Residents

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