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Attorney Sanga Turnbull

Florida Issues Emergency Order to Lift Visitation Restrictions in Nursing Homes

On Behalf of | Nov 23, 2020 | Nursing Home Neglect

Despite a steadily growing number of confirmed coronavirus cases, Florida authorities issued an emergency order to lift visitation restrictions in nursing homes. The restrictions were originally implemented earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visitation restrictions were also lifted in assisted living facilities, adult group homes, and other long-term care facilities across Florida. The Florida Division of Emergency Management issued the emergency order at Governor Ron DeSantis’s direction.

Nursing Homes Can Now Accept Visitors if They Meet Specific Criteria

The emergency order, which expands visitation to long-term care facilities that meet specific criteria, requires all visitors to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in compliance with the CDC guidelines. Even those not making physical contact with residents or staff are required to wear a face mask at all times.

According to the emergency order, a nursing home must meet the following criteria to accept visitors:

  • There have been no new facility-onset of COVID-19 cases among residents in the past 14 days except in dedicated wings or units that treat coronavirus patients;
  • If a member of nursing home staff tests positive for COVID-19, the facility must immediately stop accepting all indoor and outdoor visitation unless the infected staff member was not in the facility in the ten days preceding the test;
  • The facility must have sufficient staff to manage visitors;
  • The facility must provide adequate PPE for all staff members;
  • The nursing home must have all necessary cleaning and disinfecting supplies; and
  • There must be adequate capacity at referral hospitals for the nursing home.

Who is Allowed to Visit Nursing Home Residents?

Access to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities can be granted only to the following categories of people:

  • Staff members and residents;
  • Family members, friends, and individuals who visit residents in end-of-life situations;
  • Hospice and healthcare workers caring for residents in end-of-life situations;
  • Individuals providing necessary health care to residents unless they fail to comply with the CDC guidelines or failed screening for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entry;
  • The resident’s Attorney of Record in adult mental health and treatment facilities for court-related matters unless the visitation can be done through virtual or telephonic means;
  • Public or professional guardians and their staff as defined in the Florida Statute Chapter 744;
  • Federal or state government workers seeking entry as part of their official duties;
  • Essential caregivers;
  • Essential compassionate care visitors; and
  • General visitors who meet specific criteria determined by the emergency order.

Additional Requirements for Nursing Homes When Expanding Visitation

As per the emergency order, all long-term care facilities must ensure that people seeking entry do not have COVID-19 symptoms, did not test positive for the virus, and are not quarantining.

The emergency order requires all nursing homes to set limits on the number of visitors allowed and schedule visitation ahead of time. Also, facilities must screen all visitors, disinfect visiting areas in-between visits, and adopt other safety measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

To be granted access to the facility, general visitors must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Wear a face mask;
  • Sign a consent form to confirm that they understand the visitation policies;
  • Maintain a social distance of at least six feet; and
  • If offered, pass testing for COVID-19.

If a nursing home accepts visitors but fails to comply with the requirements set forth by the emergency order, the facility may be held responsible for nursing home neglect. Contact our Lakeland nursing home neglect lawyer at The Turnbull Firm if the facility endangered your loved one and failed to take all reasonable steps to protect them from COVID-19. Call 863-324-3500 for a case review.