New Rules For Nursing Homes Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Nurse consoling her elderly patient by holding her hands

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities on Long Island and across New York State are under new restrictions intended to stem the spread of the coronavirus among adult care facility residents, who are among the most vulnerable.

New York State Department of Health guidelines urge such facilities to restrict or prohibit visitors to the facility if the facility operators have a reasonable cause to believe that visitors could impact the safety of the people living there. In addition, the facilities are required to have staff members readily available to screen visitors for potential exposure or symptoms of the coronavirus. That’s because officials say the coronavirus hits the senior population and those with underlying health issues the hardest.

“We know the young folks are generally going to be okay when they get [coronavirus, but] older folks have more complications and not as positive outcomes,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “We’ve got to do everything we can to protect our seniors and to protect those with lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions. These guidelines should help make sure that our adult care facilities are protecting their residents as best they can.”

At least three of the more than 60 coronavirus patients on Long Island are senior citizens, including an 81-year-old woman who was in hospice at The Bristal Assisted Living at North Hills. An employee of Peconic Landing assisted living facility in Greenport is also among those diagnosed.

To communicate key health tips to the public, the state has provided facilities with posters with essential information for the public to read at the entrances of these facilities.

“Our senior centers are the best in the country,” said Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence E. Einsentein. “They have great leadership, they have great medical staffs, and honestly most of this stuff they’re already on top of anyways.”

Prior to the positive case at the Bristal, the assisted living facility had already implemented a program that includes consistent and frequent cleaning at all of its facilities. They also recommended no visitation to the facility, unless necessary. If a visit is necessary, they are requiring the visitor to make a declaration that they have not been out of the country and do not show symptoms of being ill.

“As part of our expanded health care protocol, we have been checking each resident and every Bristal staffer for any potential signs of the virus,” explained Bristal’s principal Steven Krieger. “When we detected a cough and fever in this individual, she was promptly brought to the hospital for further care and observation. While awaiting the official diagnosis, the Bristal in North Hills immediately launched a thorough cleaning of the facility, which has included all public spaces. In addition, those who might have come in contact with her during private hospice care have been identified.”

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