Ohio Governor discusses nursing home visitations and delayed vaccines

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine(Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, The Ohio Channel)
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 2:43 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSAZ) - Ohio Governor Mike DeWine talked about exceptions when it comes to visitations at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

He held a press conference Monday afternoon.

Governor DeWine says the number of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes continue to go down and says we are making progress.

With visitation, Governor DeWine says when the virus started to spread, every medical expert suggested stopping visitation at nursing homes. On March 13, 2020, the state issued an order that limited entry by only allowing healthcare personnel necessary to enter the nursing home. This also allowed visitation for people who were near death.

In June 2020, outdoor visitation was allowed for assisted living facilities.

In July 2020, outdoor visitation was expanded to nursing homes.

In September 2020, the Federal Government Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS, issued new guidance and regulations for visitations. These are still in effect.

Under the CMS federal regulations, a nursing home has to meet three criteria to allow visitors:

  1. No new onset of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days
  2. The facility is not currently conducting outbreak testing
  3. CMS reports that COVID-19 county positivity rate at less than 10%

The governor says these override anything the state does. Nursing homes have to comply with the federal regulations.

Governor DeWine says there are exceptions to that criteria. He says even if the nursing home is not allowed to have visits because they don’t meet the criteria of CMS, visitation can and should still happen in certain circumstances. Under the CMS rules, compassionate care visits are always allowed. Compassionate care is not just for end of life situations. These are special visits in which a family member or other visitor provides comfort, support or assistance to a resident who’s well-being is suffering or at risk. This is to get that loved one well again.

CMS has a list of examples of compassionate care visits that include but are not limited to:

  • A resident who was living with family before that was recently was admitted to a home and is now struggling with the change in environment and lack of physical family support
  • A resident who is grieving after a friend or family member recently died
  • A resident who needs encouragement with eating or drinking from family member is currently experiencing weight-loss or dehydration.
  • A resident who used to talk or interact with others is experiencing distress, seldom speaking or crying more frequently.

These compassionate care examples also include assisted living facilities.

The governor says soon, more nursing homes may be allowed to have more visitation. He will be sending a letter to each facility to remind them to check county positivity rate every week to determine their visitation status and to allow for compassionate care visits.

There is a long-term care facility visitation dashboard here so you can check if visitation is allowed at any facility across the state.

The governor also talked about COVID-19 vaccines. He says a few hospitals did receive their Pfizer shipments last week despite weather delays. Others were repackaged by the Ohio Department of Health warehouse and delivered.

The Moderna shipments were delayed. Some of the providers were able to use second doses they had already received so they didn’t have to cancel clinics they had already scheduled. Those second doses will be back-filled with shipments they receive this week.

Additional delayed vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna will arrive between Monday and Wednesday. For those providers who cancelled clinics last week, Governor DeWine says they have urged them to expand their appointment schedules to include evening and weekend hours.

As of February 22, there have been 1,611 cases, 58 deaths 120 hospitalizations and 16 ICU admissions within the last 24 hours in connection to COVID-19. Overall, there have been 955,378 cases, 16,874 deaths, 49,492 hospitalizations and 7,044 ICU admissions.

Governor DeWine says age is the top indicator of the likelihood of death from COVID-19. 87% of deaths in Ohio are those 65 and older. As they move forward with the vaccination plan, the state will hold at age 65+ until they have satisfied the vaccine demand in this age group.

They plan on opening vaccinations to those 55 and older, then 50 and older.

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