DHEC rolls out guidance on COVID-19 testing, when to relax nursing home visitation rules

DHEC rolls out guidance on COVID-19 testing, when to relax nursing home visitation rules

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is giving long term care facilities new guidelines on testing, and the possibility of bringing back visitors.

On Friday, July 24 the Department finalized and distributed the guidance.

It focuses primarily on expanding testing for patients and staff as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.

It also takes into account the spread of COVID-19 in the community and the access to Personal Protective Equipment for workers.

The guidance does not lay out a timeline for the resumption of nursing home visitations but asks each nursing home to establish a plan and consider conditions before opening up.

Nursing homes will be required to work with DHEC and local officials before relaxing any restrictions.

DHEC has restricted nursing home visitation since March 13.

RELATED STORY Ι Gov. McMaster orders DHEC to postpone allowing limited visitation in nursing homes

FAQ’s on “closed window” visitations can be found here.

The federal government could provide South Carolina nursing homes with financial support to expand their testing.

On July 22, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would be distributing $5 Billion in CARES Act aid to facilities across the nation.

A press release from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (another federal agency overseeing nursing homes) states the money could be used:

“...to build nursing home skills and enhance nursing homes’ response to COVID-19, including enhanced infection control. This funding could be used to address critical needs in nursing homes including hiring additional staff, implementing infection control “mentorship” programs with subject matter experts, increasing testing, and providing additional services, such as technology so residents can connect with their families if they are not able to visit.”

President of the South Carolina Health Care Association J. Randal Lee did not respond to requests for comment on where the money could be best spent in South Carolina.

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