Notes from Nate: Visitation Amidst COVID-19

It has been 13 long weeks since we were required to close our doors to visitation at St. John’s Home. The pain of this separation is palpable for all parties involved. As New York beings its phased re-opening plan, naturally the first question is, ‘When will St. John’s be open for visitors again?’ Unfortunately, we do not know the answer to that, but can share context of what we are learning.

On May 18 the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) issued a document about re-opening nursing homes. The decision of how to re-open safely will be determined at the state level. States have the options to pursue state-wide re-opening, regional re-opening, or individual home re-opening.  It is unknown at this point what New York will pursue, or what thresholds will have to be met in a re-opening plan.

Nate Sweeney, Vice President of Skilled Services with a resident during Water Wars last summer

In conversations with other local nursing home administrators, our thought is that the thresholds will likely include data about transmission numbers in the broader community, sustained access to testing for residents, staff, and the community at large, and the capacity of the health systems/hospitals.  We strongly suspect that any re-opening plan will trail the plans for businesses and communities by weeks.   However, that is an informed guess and nothing is currently in place. Our team is awaiting New York State’s guidance to make sure we meet any measurement infrastructure that might be required as we prepare to re-open.

Staff members at St. John’s will never be a substitute for families and loved ones in the life of your loved one. But, we continue to support and care for residents while creatively finding ways to combat isolation and remain connected. I have appreciated their courage and flexibility more than words can say, and I look forward to the day when we can all reunite together.

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