ABCM Corporation continues to ease visitor restrictions at Northgate and Southcrest locations, incorporates reservation system

For more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began, visitor restrictions have been in place throughout ABCM Corporation locations in Iowa, including 31 rehabilitation and long-term care centers and 24 independent and assisted livings. Among those locations are Northgate Care Center and Southcrest Manor II Assisted Living in Waukon.

March 11, 2020, entry points to those locations were locked per the direction of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). Since then, those facilities have followed guidance on easing visitor restrictions from both federal, state and county public health agencies as they pertain to long-term care facilities, with updates in May 2020, June 2020, September 2020, and most recently in March of 2021.

Finally, March 10 of this year - almost exactly one year later - CMS revised its previous guidance from September 17, 2020 for Nursing Home Visitation-COVID-19 to include “the impact of COVID-19 vaccination” (Ref: QSO-20-39-NH). This guidance states, “Since the release of QSO memorandum 20-39-NH on September 17, 2020, COVID-19 vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Millions of vaccinations have since been administered to nursing home residents and staff, and these vaccines have been shown to help prevent symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection (i.e. COVID-19). Therefore, CMS, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is updating its visitation guidance accordingly, but emphasizing the importance of maintaining infection prevention practices, given the continued risk of COVID-19 transmission.”

According to the updated guidance, visitation can be conducted through different means based on facility’s structure and residents’ needs, such as in dedicated visitation spaces, resident rooms, outdoors, etc. Regardless of how visits are conducted, there are certain core principles and best practices CMS has given to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. ABCM Corporation Core Principles of COVID-19 Infection Prevention are consistent with the CMS and CDC guidance for nursing homes, and according to the guidance, “should be adhered to at all times.”

“We’ve had a lot of very reasonable questions about why visitation can’t immediately resume like it was before the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Samuel Stanton, M.D., ABCM Corporation Executive Medical Director. “I can definitely understand why someone who’s been separated from their loved one through this crisis would urgently expect to come back in once they and their loved one have been vaccinated. The challenge on the nursing home’s side is, for various reasons, not everyone has been vaccinated. For example, a nursing home accepts admissions from hospitals 24/7 and many of these patients they’re taking from the community are not vaccinated yet. Therefore, the nursing home still has to follow CMS, CDC and IDPH guidance to balance the safety of those residents and tenants who haven’t been vaccinated with opening up for those who have.”

In its most recent guidance, CMS stated, “we are constantly weighing the risks of spreading COVID-19 with the risks of expanding visitation. There are a few more steps before nursing homes can allow even more visitors.”
Per IDPH’s coronavirus website, as of April 6, 2021, 666,285 Iowans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is approximately 22% of Iowa’s total population.

Over the past few weeks, ABCM Corporation locations have been diligently reviewing the updated guidance to plan for and execute in-person visits safely by following the Core Principles of COVID-19 Infection Prevention. Richard Allbee, ABCM Corporation Chief Executive Officer, noted, “Visitors should be advised that we are trying to be accommodating as much as possible and still be responsible to our other residents, tenants, our staff, and the community.”

Alexa Mayner, ABCM Corporation Chief Operating Officer, further shared, “We are so pleased to once again have our families’ onsite, visiting with their loves ones and involved in their care. Family support and involvement is a critical component of their well-being and we credit it directly for the high quality of life our residents typically enjoy. It is important that we continue to put the health and safety of everyone first, as we move forward and that family members understand and respect the infection control precautions necessary for that to happen.”

In order to ensure that our ABCM locations can accommodate all residents and families when it is most convenient for the visit and to make the best use of limited space, each location has developed a reservation protocol so that residents and visitors can schedule and reserve the use of the dedicated visitation areas. This process will also help ensure that someone is available to greet visitors upon arrival and complete the COVID-19 screening process without taking up too much of the visitor’s time, allowing more time with their loved one.

Those wanting to arrange a visit are asked to contact the specific location they are looking to visit for their process of reserving a visiting time.

Allbee noted, “We thank everyone for their continued patience and understanding as we ease visitor restrictions at our ABCM locations and look forward to more visitation and social interaction among residents, tenants, friends, family, and loved ones.”

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