submitted by Bria Lewis, Esq.
On October 9th Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order that established red, orange, and yellow zones as part of the Cluster Action Initiative. New York State Department of Health (DOH) followed by issuing a guidance on October 23rd, for visitation guidelines in red and orange zones. The October 23rd guidance applies to all residential congregate care facilities and includes nursing homes, adult care facilities, and pediatric skilled nursing facilities. On November 10th, DOH further clarified its visitation requirements for nursing homes located in cluster zones.
There is no change in visitation requirements for facilities located in yellow zones, and regardless of the zone designation, all visitors still need to present a negative COVID test within the last 7 days to visit the facility.
All visitation is suspended in residential congregate facilities* located in red zones, except for in the following instances: compassionate care (including end of life/hospice situations), medically or clinically necessary (i.e. visitor is essential to the care of the patient), accompanying a minor in a pediatric facility, labor/delivery/post-partum care, necessary legal representatives, and essential companions to individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities or with cognitive impairments, including dementia .
Visitation* is suspended if a staff member or resident in the facility test positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days. The exceptions listed under the red zone designation apply.
*Per DOH November 10th guidance: visitation in nursing homes located in red and orange zones is suspended except for compassionate care (i.e. end of life, hospice situations) medically or clinically necessary (i.e. visitor is essential to the care of the patient as determined by the facility and treating provider), and necessary legal representatives.
Compassionate care visits are not exclusive to end of life or hospice situations. If a resident is exhibiting signs of depression, anxiety, weight loss and/or cognitive decline this could fall under a compassionate care visit. Compassionate care visits are not ongoing, but can potentially help a residents’ quality of life improve. Visitors do not need to present a negative COVID test for a compassionate care visit.
To find out if a nursing home or adult care facility is in a red or orange zone you can visit https://covidhotspotlookup.health.ny.gov/#/home.
For additional information on nursing home visitation during the pandemic, please see our fact sheet.
The Center for Elder Law & Justice is available to help. If you are a resident or family member of a resident in a long-term care facility, and have questions or concerns about visitation or communications, please call our office at (716) 853- 3087 for potential legal representation.