Revised order expands visits for nursing home residents

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

Glendale Center in Naugatuck uses this area for outdoor visiting hours for residents to visit with family and friends. –CONTRIBUTED

State officials have revised emergency orders to expand compassionate care visits at nursing homes.

Gov. Ned Lamont and acting Public Health Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford in late August directed nursing homes to develop visitation policies to allow visits inside long-term care facilities under revised state guidelines.

The governor ordered nursing homes closed to visitors on March 9, and the order was modified in May to allow some residents to meet with loved ones outside, wearing a mask and adhering to social distancing.

The Department of Public Health previously allowed compassionate care visits inside a nursing home when a resident is near death. The revised order expands compassionate care visits beyond end-of-life visits to include visits for residents who undergo significant changes in physical, mental or psychosocial condition. It confirms these may take place indoors and do not require social distancing, as long as visitors and residents wear the appropriate personal protective equipment as determined and supplied by the nursing home.

“People aren’t meant to be alone,” said James Murphy, administrator of Glendale Center in Naugatuck. “We’re meant to be with each other.”

Residents in compassionate care at the center can have two visitors at a time if the resident has a private room, and one visitor if it’s a shared room, Murphy said. Visitors will have to wear masks and walk straight to the room, he said.

The revised order doesn’t change much for visitors to Glendale Center, which has been offering outdoor as well as compassionate care visits.

Murphy said the center offers outdoor visiting hours in the morning and afternoon each weekday, and one visitation session on alternating weekend days.

The nursing home has a pavilion with patio umbrellas and chairs in the rear of the building where family and friends can visit residents, he said. A resident can have up to six visitors or two residents can have up to three visitors each in the pavilion.

Murphy said it’s important for residents to visit with friends and family.

“I think it has a profound impact. I’m proud we can offer multiple types of visitation,” Murphy said. “We definitely see a positive change after visiting with family.”

Tim Brown, a spokesman for Athena Health Care Systems and Beacon Brook Health Center in Naugatuck, said the nursing home has been providing residents with window visits, Zoom calls and FaceTime calls throughout the pandemic.

“We currently provide outdoor socially distanced visits for residents and their families, under the guidance of Centers for Disease Control and Department of Public Health recommendations, as well as compassionate care visits,” Brown said.

Brown said nursing home officials will work to implement any changes with the safety and welfare of residents in mind.

The Republican-American contributed to this report.