News & Publications: Press Releases

FHCA Recommendations for Reopening Long Term Care Centers to Visitors

Florida Health Care Association shares the Governor’s desire to get our care centers back to a time when they can experience some form of normalcy. We know that families are anxious and looking forward to the day when they can wrap their arms around their loved ones. We also know our residents want their care centers to return to the place they know as their home, when they can share a meal with a friend, attend a church or synagogue service, enjoy an activity or game with others – all things that contribute to their quality of life. We appreciate the Governor for always keeping the focus on resident safety first, and our care centers agree that a resident-centered approach is the best way to manage a reopening phase for long term care.

FHCA convened together a task force of infection control experts, clinicians and nursing home and assisted living representatives to put together a plan to share with the Administration for what the reopening of long term care would look like. Our recommendations are focusing on strong screening procedures, testing, proper infection controls and PPE, designated areas with appropriate social distancing, along with a process that is facility and community specific based on the impact of COVID-19.

FHCA proposes to expand these activities in a methodical and careful process that is facility specific and based on the ability to minimize and control exposure, and any changes to current policies should incorporate feedback from federal, state and county decisionmakers. Click here to review FHCA's Sustainable COVID-19 Report, which focuses on the following recommendations:

  • Maintaining heightened infection control, including universal mask use by staff and visitors; continued staff and visitor screenings, including temperature checks; and having designated units and staff 
  • Fostering communication, infection control best practices and coordination between hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities
  • Visitations that focus on resident safety, including a need for visitor screenings, use of masks, appropriate social distancing, testing
  • Group Activities and a reopening of Beauty Salons that factor in appropriate social distancing and proper infection precautionary measures
  • Phased-In Communal Dining after visitation and group activities are restored and based on a facility's specific time period of being COVID-free
  • Rapid viral testing in the long term care environment
  • The continued use of telemedicine and, for essential outside medical appointments such as dialysis, specific infection control protocols and isolation periods
  • Stockpiling of and contingency plans for (PPE) supplies and uniform guidelines for conservation
  • Programs that assist facilities with their workforce needs, including the state-approved Personal Care Attendant Program and the Feeding Assistant Program that passed out of the 2020 Legislature
  • Funding opportunities that support facilities with the significant costs associated with COVID-19

FHCA appreciates Governor DeSantis for leading the way and for always being out in front of containing this virus. We recognize the decision to restrict visitors was a difficult one, but this was an important step to help save thousands of lives. FHCA looks forward to continuing the strong partnership with the Governor, the Agency for Health Care Administration, Department of Health and Division Emergency Management. Having their ongoing commitment to increased testing and personal protective equipment (PPE), we are confident we can keep our seniors safe as we enter into this step-by-step approach to reopening.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 28, 2020

PRESS CONTACT
Kristen Knapp, APR
850-701-3530 or kknapp@fhca.org