Texas Health Care Association issues statement on HHSC's new allowance of limited visitation in Nursing and Long-term Care Facilities

Staff Writer
Alice Echo News Journal

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) recently announced new guidance on visitation in nursing and long-term care facilities.

This marks an important new chapter in the COVID-19 pandemic, as visitors have not been allowed in these facilities since the initial restrictions began in mid-March. "These families and residents are more than deserving of these new guidelines that allow for limited visitation," said Kevin Warren, President and CEO of Texas Health Care Association (THCA). "Many of us could not fathom the kind of prolonged separation from our own loved ones that they have endured, and I am glad that we have finally began to tackle this in Texas like other states."

Conditions for limited visitation at nursing facilities require no confirmed COVID-19 cases in staff in the last fourteen days, no active positive cases in residents, and for facility staff to be tested for COVID-19 weekly.

"While we are encouraged by yesterday’s announcement, families have already begun to ask about visiting, but many questions about the testing requirements and additional conditions remain unclear to begin scheduling those visits," continued Warren. "Testing has been an ongoing challenge. Whether its administration costs, access, or delays in receiving results, there have been myriad of challenges in implementing a predictable and reliable testing protocol for long-term care. We look forward to working with HHSC and state leaders on this component."

It must also be noted that while the federal government is providing some testing support, it has initially focused on facilities with confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. As these visitation guidelines are laid out, a facility, rightly, must have no active cases so is therefore not eligible for assistance with testing from the federal government.

"If we are finally acknowledging the need for safe visitation to begin, then it is essential that we have a commitment to a long-term solution for adequate and rapid testing in our facilities," concluded Warren.