SC governor to announce nursing home re-opening guidelines on Tuesday

SC governor to announce nursing home re-opening guidelines on Tuesday
On Tuesday, Gov. Henry McMaster will be holding a news conference on new nursing home guidelines. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - After months of restricted visits, South Carolina’s nursing homes could be re-opening.

On Monday, Governor Henry McMaster’s Communications Director Brian Symmes said the governor and the Department of Health and Environmental Control will be holding a news conference on new nursing home guidelines.

He said the news conference will be at the State House on Tuesday and it’s expected the governor will outline the state’s guidance to facilities on when and how they can re-open to visitors.

Visitations at long-term care facilities have been restricted since March to end-of-life visits on a case-by-case basis.

Over the summer, families of nursing home residents have pushed for the restrictions to be loosened.

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The same day, DHEC sent WIS the following statement:

“We recognize that social isolation can have serious negative impacts on the health and well-being of residents in long-term care facilities and their loved ones. To balance the strong desire of residents and their family members to communicate in person with the need to protect these vulnerable residents from COVID-19, we will be providing guidelines to nursing homes detailing the process to allow limited visitation. Visitation will be phased in based on the disease levels in the facility and in the surrounding community. These criteria, phases, and guidelines will be based on the most recent CMS and CDC guidance for reopening nursing homes which include access to resources like PPE and testing requirements for facilities in order to reopen to visitation.

The plan will be ready for the Governor’s review and will be shared with the public next week.”

McMaster made a similar request in late June, but in July requested DHEC wait due to COVID-19 concerns.

Trish Mozdzierz said she is the daughter of a Midlands nursing home resident and is excited about the news. She spoke with WIS before the announcement and said she wants to see her mother.

“There’s no good reason for it honestly. There could be a compromise. There are solutions. We have given the governor solutions. We don’t need wide-open, full-blown everybody coming and going. We just want reasonable accommodations,” she said.

DHEC is reporting that since April 3, 1,011 patients and 18 staffers have died at long-term care facilities due to COVID-19.

Symmes said the news conference will be at 2 p.m. at the State House.

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