With COVID-related statistics trending downward at the state and local level, a number of restrictions put in place because of the pandemic are being relaxed, hospitals and long-term care facilities included.
Last week, the Arizona Department of Health Services released guidance and requirements for resuming in-person visitations and group activities at nursing homes and assisted living centers; some local facilities are ready to open their doors again.
The Villas at Green Valley sent out its new visitation policies to families last week and implemented them Friday. Owner Bobby Larson said they mirror requirements set by the state and a number of families have already made reservations.
He said The Villas will not open group activities to all residents campus-wide but will continue to allow them to participate in activities with others from their individual villa; there are 10 villas on its campus.
Santa Rita Nursing and Rehabilitation and Arroyo Gardens will allow visitors Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Visits will be limited to 45 minutes; up to two people will be allowed for indoor visits and four for outdoor visits.
Every Santa Rita and Arroyo visitor entering the campuses will be required to be free of COVID symptoms and not have traveled to high-risk areas in the previous two weeks; they will also need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of their visit.
Prestige Assisted Living is aiming to allow limited visitation and socially distanced activities as early as Tuesday. La Posada is still in the process of developing guidelines for resuming visits.
The state is using the same criteria it used to assess when to reopen businesses and schools — cases per 100,000 people, percent positivity of testing, and rate of hospital visits with COVID-like illness — and Pima County reached minimal transmission in two of the categories last week, according to the state.
Regardless of the level of COVID-19 community transmission, all indoor visitors will be required to test negative for the virus within 48 hours of their visit and attest they have isolated between the time the test was taken and the visit occurred.
Between Aug. 2 and 29, there were 96 cases of COVID reported at long-term care facilities countywide and 14 deaths, but there is generally a two-week lag in COVID-death reporting.
County efforts to provide testing kits to long-term care and assisted living facilities have increased over the course of the pandemic and a recent report tallied 36,276 tests administered and 889 cases found in facilities countywide, a 2.45% percent positivity rate.
Santa Cruz Valley Regional Hospital made changes to its visitor policy that go into effect Tuesday. The new policy breaks with the strict no-visitor policy that has been in place since around the time the pandemic began.
- When patient arrives to ER with potential or positive COVID-19, no visitor can accompany patient.
- When a patient arrives at the ER and after the Medical Screening Exam (MSE) is complete, only one visitor is allowed in ER room with the patient.
- The visitor is not to leave the ER area at any time during the patient’s ER stay.
- If the visitor leaves the area, they will be asked to leave the facility.
- If the patient is admitted for potential or positive COVID-19, no visitors are allowed.
- For non-COVID-19 patients, one visitor may come to “tuck patient in” for no longer than 15 minutes, but then will have to leave the hospital. This applies to the admission day. Subsequent visits will not be permitted at this time.
- On day of discharge to home, one visitor may come in and assist the patient being discharged.
- Imminently dying patients are allowed one visitor, one time with duration of visit dependent upon patient status. A visitor, under the guidance of attending medical staff, is permitted to attend a patient who is imminently dying.
Outpatient procedures, testing
- No visitors are allowed at this time. Will continue to reassess as needed.
Visitors are required to provide their own personal protective equipment, be symptom free and not have a recent COVID-19 diagnosis. Visitors will need to enter the hospital through the emergency room entrance.