ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — There are still important guidelines you must follow, if you plan to visit family or friends in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. The decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has made nursing home staff optimistic, but between state mandates and policies enacted by facility managers they’re still on guard to keep future waves out.
Greg Chambery and his staff at the Maplewood Nursing Home in Webster have not had much of a break over the last two years. At the height of Omicron, they realized testing was their best weapon.
“We went right to testing,” Chambery told us. “The state depended on the testing to keep Omicron out of facilities and so did we. It was very effective helping us keep that away from our resident population.”
Despite masks no longer mandated in schools or most public places, all visitors and staff must wear one in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. You must also answer health questions and be screened for symptoms. Plus, show proof of a negative Covid test before going into a nursing home.
“Masking in nursing homes haven’t changed in the last two years and I don’t see that coming down any differently for a long time,” Chambery explained. “We’re fully masked all the time. Anybody coming in and out of the facility is masked. Everybody who’s a visitor coming into the facility must be tested within 24 hours of the visit.”
“We are open to visitors; they do need to be screened,” Village at Mill Landing General Manger Christine Hill added. “When they enter the community, they do need to be masked as our staff.”
Those like Christine Hill, who manages the Village at Mill Landing Assisted Living facility, are optimistic normalcy will slowly return to their environments as well. But are already allowing residents to gather back into cafes to eat together and play games or hold activities outside rooms.
“Life is happening here,” Hill said. “This is our resident’s home and it’s all about quality of life. So, our activities are in full swing. Our community at this point looks like it did pre-Covid.”
Masking and negative Covid test policies will not change until the State Department of Health decides trends are low enough to lift them. Facilities we spoke to don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.
Department of Health reports show 95% of elderly residents in our area that live in long-term care facilities are fully vaccinated. In some cases, these places can require you to show proof of vaccination before entering.