Gov. McMaster ends nursing home visitation suspension

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McMaster ends visitation restrictions

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- Governor Henry McMaster announced Tuesday afternoon that nursing homes in the state can once again accept visitors, but strict rules will be in place, including limiting those visits to outside.

McMaster suspended visitation to the homes at the first sign of coronavirus in the state. “Suspending visitation to our nursing homes in March was a heartbreaking necessity.

Tuesday, he announced the end of that suspension. “I’ve read numerous letters I have had phone calls, face to face conversation and I have heard the pain and frustration in their voices and in their words,” added McMaster.

First, all visits will have to be outside and can’t be longer than an hour. It’s a measure experts say will help prevent an outbreak within a facility.

Dr. Joan Duwve explained, “Our first priority when developing these guidelines was the physical and mental health of our loved ones who call nursing homes their homes. This virus has claimed them as those among highest risk for developing life ending complications.”

Testing will continue to be a priority in the nursing homes for residents and staff, but now visitors will also have to be tested within a certain time frame of their visit.

“The nasal swab, oral swab, or saliva test; 5 days. For the antibody test, a positive antibody test; dated within the past month,” continued Dr. Duwve.

DHEC has also identified reasons visitiation would have to be suspended again including positive cases in the facility and the nursing home not following testing protocol. The nursing homes will be audited daily to make sure policies are being followed.

The main goal is to provide the much needed connection that our vulnerable adults have been missing out on since March.

Governor McMaster added, “We realized that this visitation or absence of it in the nursing homes and long term care facilities has been a tremendous burden on people. And we are aware of that.”

It’s important to note these visitations will not start immediately the facilities will have to submit a plan to DHEC first before opening their doors.

Visitors will have to be at least 12 years of age and visitations will only be at facilities that do not have active cases of COVID-19.

For the full list of rules click HERE.

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