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ESAAL helps families visit loved ones residing in assisted living communities across New York

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Mon, Sep 14th 2020 11:45 am

Not-for-profit organization helps alter the difficult NYS DOH 28-day rule

Guest Editorial by the Empire State Association of Assisted Living

After frequent and growing pleas from the Empire State Association of Assisted Living (ESAAL), its member assisted living communities, their residents and family members, on Sept. 9 the New York State Department of Health offered more flexible rules for allowing resumption of resident-family visits, removing a significant obstacle referred to as the 28-day rule. ESAAL is grateful to the department for the change, which allows more assisted living communities to be eligible to resume family visitation with residents.

The advisory reduced the length of time visitation must be shut down after a resident or staff member tests positive from 28 days to 14 days. The new 14-day rule is consistent with standard employee return to work guidance and will allow an assisted living community to reopen visitation sooner.

“The 28-day rule was very difficult to meet,” said Lisa Newcomb, ESAAL executive director. “Only one positive result set the community back by another 28 days. We appreciate the department’s reconsideration of this so that more NYS assisted living residents can enjoy time with their families and more often. For our part, ESAAL will continue to remind our assisted living members to ensure that all of the comprehensive rules around visitation are strictly followed to ensure resident safety.”

The visitation requirements go far beyond the now 14-day COVID-19-free rule. Statewide infection control inspections must be completed, formal visitation plans must be submitted and approved by the Department of Health, social distancing must be maintained, PPE must be provided to all visitors, and the number of visitors at one time is very limited.

“Today, many assisted living residents and their loved ones are breathing easier. The Department of Health’s change of this rule is good for everyone,” Newcomb said.

Empire State Association of Assisted Living is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to strengthening New York state's assisted living sector and promoting the best interests of providers and residents. Founded in 1979, ESAAL is the only association that exclusively represents the assisted living industry, serving 300 assisted living residences, adult homes, enriched housing programs and assisted living programs throughout New York state. These member residences are home to more than 30,000 seniors.

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