Nursing homes, assisted living now screening visitors for coronavirus

Mar 12, 2020

Dartmouth nursing homes and assisted living facilities are restricting visitors and screening them for illness following new state policies to protect high-risk populations from coronavirus.

The Baker-Polito administration released guidelines restricting visitors to nursing homes and rest homes on March 11, and guidelines for screening residents and visitors to assisted living facilities and similar programs on March 12.

According to a press release by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, all visitors to nursing homes and rest homes will be screened.

Those with any symptoms of a respiratory infection, those who have had contact with someone who has been sick, or those who have travelled internationally within the last 14 days will be banned.

Visitors will also not be allowed to enter long term care facilities if they currently feel sick or show any symptoms of illness.

Executive Director of Dartmouth nursing home Brandon Woods Tem Shodunke stated that the company is “feeling pretty good” about the steps it’s taking to prevent an outbreak.

“We’re taking every step to protect our residents and staff members,” he noted. “We’re working closely with the state to ensure that we are in complete compliance with all of their guidelines.”

Shodunke stated that visitation is restricted to family members of those in hospice or end of life care, and that all visitors are being screened for illness, with staff members checking for symptoms like coughing, fever, or a sore throat.

Visitors are also required to fill out a questionnaire to determine if they have traveled internationally in the past 14 days or had contact with anyone who may have coronavirus.

Meanwhile, a representative from the Cottages at Dartmouth Village assisted living facility noted that staff is taking the temperature of all visitors at the front desk.

Staff are also checking visitors to see if they have flu or respiratory symptoms like fever or difficulty breathing, or if they are at risk for coronavirus due to international travel or contact.

The Baker-Polito administration has also updated its guidance to the general public, specifically urging older adults and those with health issues to avoid large crowds and events. 

Individuals who live in households with vulnerable people, like elderly parents, should also consider avoiding crowds to mitigate risk.