“Now that the weather is turning cooler, and winter will soon be upon us, can I visit my loved one inside your building?”
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has announced updated guidance for long-term care organizations for indoor visitation programs (replacing previous guidance issued in August 2020). Due to the chillier weather and onset of winter conditions, we know this is an important topic for many of you, and we want to assure you that we are taking this matter seriously, trying to be both prudent and careful. Indoor visits will no doubt increase the opportunity for exposure to COVID-19 for both residents and staff. While COVID-19 has become a highly politicized issue, with many taking differing positions related to the seriousness of COVID-19 in our nation, few people argue that seniors are at far greater risk for serious and deadly infections. With Minnesota currently experiencing an increase in positive cases around our state, outstate Minnesota seeing some of the greatest increases per capita of confirmed cases, and being surrounded by states with even worse community spread than what we are experiencing here, this virus is as dangerous for our seniors (and truly, for everyone), as it has been at any point in this pandemic.
When open for indoor visits, you may schedule up to two people for a 30-minute visit with your loved one. Throughout the visit, a physical distance from others must be maintained, including the resident being visited, and wearing a mask that completely covers the nose, mouth, and chin at all times, is mandatory. Additionally, the visitor must go straight to the designated visiting area upon entering the building, and must exit the building immediately following the end of the visit. Visits to resident apartments or to other common areas of the building are not permitted. These precautions against virus transmission are non-negotiable, and any visitors found to be out of compliance will be required to leave the facility and will not be allowed any further in-facility visits.
It is very likely our facility will be back-and-forth throughout the coming months, sometimes allowing and sometimes prohibiting indoor visits. We will do our best to accommodate visit requests when available, and to give priority to rescheduling cancelled visits when necessary. Many of our families have been incredibly patient, supportive, and understanding, even during these times of difficulty and frustration – and we thank you for that. We want you to be with your loved ones almost as much as you do, and we are doing our absolute best to make that happen.
How can you help? Since in-facility and county positivity rates impact our ability to offer indoor visits (positivity rates over 10% in our county and close neighboring counties mean indoor visits must be suspended, and any COVID-positive cases amongst our staff or resident population also means all in-person visits, including outdoor and window visits, must be suspended), we encourage you, regardless of political or ideological beliefs, to do your part to minimize the spread of COVID even when you’re at home, work, or in the community at large – keep your hands cleaned and sanitized, keep at least 6-feet of distance (preferably more) between yourself and others, and wear a mask whenever you are around other people that you don’t live with (even if you are outside). As importantly, encourage others to do the same! Whether your actions prevent the spread of a cold, flu, or COVID, what you do and don’t do does make a difference!