New state guidelines allow some long-term care facilities to offer limited visitations

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — It’s been nearly five months since nursing homes and long term care facilities closed their doors to visitors.

Now loved ones can breathe a sigh of relief as the state announces guidelines for limited visitations.

As Chair of the Texas House Committee on Human Services, District 69 State Rep. James Frank said this is a big deal for him and loved ones of residents.

“Tears, screaming, hollering, laying on the floor crying,” is how Dee Godby, whose sister Freda is in a care facility, describes the past five months.

It’s been five months of not seeing her sister without a window or screen in between.

“It’s kinda like I can go to the zoo and visit animals through the glass and that’s kinda the way we were feeling,” Godby said. “Yeah I can see them through the glass, but that personal contact.”

Nursing homes and long term care facilities stopped welcoming visitors with a hope of protecting the most vulnerable from COVID-19.

Thanks to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, face-to-face is on the horizon.

“I think people think it’s just what somebody wants, as an extrovert I would tell you it’s something that people need, it’s a mental need, it’s a physical need,” Frank said. “We’re designed for social interaction, when you take that away there’s virtually no quality of life.”

Frank said the Texas House Committee on Human Services has been working on how to create safe visitations for more than two months.

Nursing homes guidelines
  • Limited to outdoors.
  • No confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in staff in the last 14 days.
  • No active positive cases in residents.
  • Any facility previously experiencing an outbreak that has fully recovered must be adequately. staffed and following adequate infection control procedures.
  • Facility staff are being tested for COVID-19 weekly.
Long-term care facilities guidelines
  • Indoor or outdoor visitation allowed.
  • No confirmed COVID-19 positive staff in last 14 days.
  • No active positive cases in residents.
  • Adequate staffing to facilitate visitation in compliance with infection control requirements.
  • Use of plexiglass as a safety barrier for indoor visitation to prevent spread of COVID-19.

“It’s probably be in the best, best, best case early next week before anybody is going to be visiting,” Frank said. “Many of the facilities won’t even qualify.”

Godby and other family members got to a point of reaching out to Gov. Greg Abbott every day, even emailing President Donald Trump.

“For the last 147 days, they’ve been breathing the same air, let them go to the dining room, let them go to the activity room,” Godby said.

Monday marks 150 days of no face-to-face as she hopes day 151 doesn’t come.

Godby said the facility, Senior Care Health & Rehabilitation, has taken great care of her sister.

Some nursing homes and long term care facilities are getting plans together to best determine how to facilitate these visitations under the new guidance.

Gov. Abbott also announcing Friday, $1.1 billion in federal funding for nursing facilities.

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