Long-Term Care Centers Making Plans to Expand In-Person Visits

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s nursing homes are maintaining strict visiting guidelines in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, families have gotten by with visiting outside or through windows but as it gets cooler here, that likely won’t be an option.

Now there are new recommendations in place.

“Primarily revolves around the positivity rate of the virus activity in at a county level. And so what…what the, what families want to do, and want to communicate with, with the nursing home of the one where their loved one is. Find out what their positivity rate is which will indicate what their level of visitation is. The higher the positivity rate, the more limited the visitation is. But even with high positivity rates, we now have a path to allow indoor visits,” said Brent Willett, President and CEO of the Iowa Health Care Association.

While this is one step closer to reuniting long-term care residents with loved ones, the Iowa Health Care Association says the perfect scenario doesn’t yet exist.

“Unfortunately, there is no good answer. In a situation like this we absolutely need families to see their loved ones and we absolutely need to keep the virus 100% out of facilities. You can’t get both things. And so by, you know, the simple math is by inviting more human beings into nursing homes, we are going to see more virus activity in nursing homes. What an acceptable level of that is, I can’t answer that question,” said Willett.

Right now, there are 52 active outbreaks in long-term care facilities in Iowa. So far, 693 residents of long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19 in Iowa.

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