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Federally Regulated Nursing Homes Open To Visitors; Assisted-Living Homes Waiting On State For Guidance

Published: Friday, March 12, 2021 - 12:57pm

Just a few days before the one-year mark of nursing homes closing their doors to visitors, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid revised its guidelines to allow for less-restrictive visits. But the guidance does not include the state’s more than 2,000 assisted-living facilities. 

At this point, assisted-living facilities are still operating under guidance set forth by the Task Force on Long Term Care, which allows for visits under certain conditions. Karen Barno is the CEO of the Arizona Assisted Living Federation of America. Her group represents the 600 or so larger assisted-living centers in the state. 

She says the task force will be meeting to discuss the current policy. 

"Depending on how the new guidelines come out, if the community's vaccinated, and the family members vaccinated, they possibly will be able to come in without having to get the 72-hour COVID test," Barno said. 

That's because assisted-living facilities are regulated by the state and not CMS, which oversee the state's 148 skilled nursing facilities. So until the state updates its guidance, the old rules apply. As for the vaccine rollout, Barno says they’re making great progress. 

Rocky McKay is the president of the Arizona Assisted Living Homes Association. His group represents the roughly 1,800 care homes, which have 10 beds or less. McKay says the homes that partnered with pharmacies on vaccinations are getting their second dose. 

"The ones that did not get set up on them [the pharmacy partnership], that who have gone through the county, that's been a lot slower. I know the county, I just talked with them, they're still trying to get, I believe, another 600 homes signed up," McKay said. 

A new analysis shows COVID cases and deaths are declining in Arizona nursing homes.