Larimer Health Director Tom Gonzales talks about why a stay-at-home order was needed to help fight coronavirus Fort Collins Coloradoan
Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will be required to drastically limit visitors and implement new safeguards to protect their residents as Colorado steps back from the statewide stay-at-home order.
As of the state’s Tuesday afternoon data release, there have been at least 119 reported coronavirus outbreaks — or instances of two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a facility within 14 days — in Colorado, including two at long-term care facilities in Larimer County. There have been confirmed COVID-19 cases within at least five nursing homes in Larimer County.
Though much of the state will transition to a “safer at home” reality beginning April 27, Gov. Jared Polis said Monday that vulnerable residents should continue to shelter in place to prevent serious infection and death.
Under an amended public health order released Tuesday by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, all long-term care facilities will be required to submit COVID-19 prevention and response plans to the state no later than May 1. The nine-page template is available on the state health department’s website,covid19.colorado.gov/ltcf.
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Those facilities, which include residential care facilities, nursing homes and assisted living residences, will also need to:
- Restrict visitors to essential personnel, defined as vendors providing necessary supplies or services to a facility or “individuals necessary for the physical and/or mental well-being of the resident.” Facilities will be required to post signs about their visitation policies, and also should review how they interact with such visitors and revise policies to prevent potential disease transmission.
- Screen all visitors, employees and visitors for symptoms, documenting each screening and providing that documentation upon request to the state health department.
- Limit essential visitors’ movements to a resident’s room. Visitors must wear personal protective equipment, including a gown, gloves and a mask. Physical contact with the resident will be limited, and visitors must limit surfaces touched within a facility. Only two essential visitors per resident will be allowed at a time.
- Require all residents and employees to wear a mask or face covering when in public. Employees are required to wear a mask “at all times” when in a long-term care facility.
- Make sure all facility residents have access to needed medical care.
If a facility has a suspected, presumptive or confirmed coronavirus patient, visitation will be restricted further, and the facility must:
- Consult with the county’s public health agency, which would be Larimer County Department of Health and Environment for facilities located in Larimer County
- Notify the state health department
- Keep a log of visitors and staff interacting with the isolated patient(s) and be able to identify staff who interacted with them and their environment
- Restrict all group activities within the facility
- Provide another way for those who would normally visit the facility to communicate, such as phone or video conferencing
- Assign staff to be primary contacts for families calling into the facility and regularly call families to update them
- Offer a phone line with a voice recording update of the facility’s operating status, including when it’s safe to resume visitation. That recording should be updated at set times.
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Sarah Kyle is a content coach at the Coloradoan. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.
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