Florida Now Allowing Visitation in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities Under Specific Guidelines
On September 1, 2020, the State of Florida issued Emergency Order 20-009, which outlines new, specific guidelines for allowing visitation in facilities including long term care hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This new Order applies until the expiration of the State of Emergency declared by the Governor and any extensions thereof. The full Emergency Order can be viewed here.
This Emergency Order suspends Florida Statutes that relate to the visitation rights of individuals with developmental disabilities and those people currently living in nursing homes, assisted care, and forensic facilities in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Under this Order, facilities must still continue to prohibit entry to the facilities except in the instances carved out in the Emergency Order. Visitors having physical contact with residents must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and visitors no having physical contact with residents must wear face masks.
This new Emergency Order allows the following people to enter facilities for visitation with residents:
- Family members, friends, and individuals visiting residents in end-of-life situations only
- Hospice or palliative care workers caring for residents in end-of-life situations
- Individuals or providers giving necessary health care to a resident provided the visitors comply with CDC requirements for PPE, are screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 before entry, and comply with infection control requirements of CDC and the facility
- Facility staff
- Facility residents
- Attorneys of record for a resident in an Adult Mental Health and Treatment Facility or forensic facility for court related matters if virtual or telephonic means are unavailable
- Public Guardians, Professional Guardians and their staff
- Representatives of the federal or state government seeking entry as part of his or her official duties
- Essential caregivers and compassionate care visitors who satisfy the criteria
- Essential caregivers are those who have been given consent by the resident or his or her representative to provide services and/or assistance with activities of daily living to help maintain or improve the quality of care or quality of life for a facility resident. Care or services must be identified in the plan of care or service plan and include bathing, dressing, eating, and/or emotional support.
- Compassionate care visitors provide emotional support to help a resident deal with a difficult transition or loss, unsettling event, or end-of-life. These visitors may be allowed entry into facilities on a limited basis for these specific purposes.
- Each resident can designate 2 essential caregivers and 2 compassionate care visitors. Other than in end-of-life situations, a resident may be visited by 1 such visitor at a time.
- General visitors
- The facility must have no new facility-onset of resident COVID-19 cases in the previous 14 days (other than in a wing or unit dedicated to COVID-19 patients) before allowing general visitors. The facility must stop allowing general visitors if a resident tests positive or exhibits symptoms of the virus.
- The facility must have 14 days with no new facility-onset of staff COVID-19 cases where a positive staff person was in the facility in the 10 days prior to the positive test before allowing general visitors. The facility must stop allowing general visitors if a staff member who was in the facility in the 10 days prior tests positive for COVID-19.
- The facility must have sufficient staff to support management of visitors.
- The facility must have adequate PPE for staff, cleaning and disinfecting supplies, and capacity at referral hospitals for the facility.
- General visitors must:
- Be 18 years old or older
- Wear a face mask and perform proper hand hygiene
- Sign a consent form noting understanding of the facility’s visitation and infection prevention and control policies
- Comply with facility-provided COVID-19 testing, if offered
- Limit movement within the facility and social distance with staff and other residents
- The facility must enact and enforce policies to limit the spread of COVID-19 within the facility, including, but no limited to
- Prohibiting visitation if the resident is quarantined, positive for COVID-19 and not recovered, or symptomatic for COVID-19
- Screening general visitors prior to entry to facility
- Establishing limits on visitation (limits on length of visits, days, hours and number of visits per week)
- Scheduling visits by appointment only
- Maintaining a visitor log
- Requiring general visitors to submit to facility-provided COVID-19 testing so long as use of testing is based on the most recent CDC and FDA guidance
- Each resident is able to designate 5 general visitors and may be visited by no more than 2 general visitors at a time.
None of the individuals listed above will be able to enter a facility if they have tested positive for COVID-19 and not completed their quarantine as defined by the CDC, are exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or have been in contact with anyone known to be infected with COVID-19 and not completed their isolation as established by the CDC. All visitors to a facility must immediately inform the facility if they develop a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, or test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of a visit to the facility.
The Elder Law Center of Kirson & Fuller continues to provide full elder law services, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Rest assured that we’re taking all precautions to ensure the health and safety of our clients and staff, including conducting our consultations and client conferences by telephone or video conference and curbside signings.
If you or someone you know is in need of legal advice regarding Medicaid and VA planning, Guardianship, Trust Administration, Probate, Estate Planning, Special Needs Planning, please call our office at (407) 422-3017 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.
By: Kate L. Wakeman, Esq.