INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) — Indiana long-term care facilities will now be required to allow up to two-hour visits for all residents, at all times with a few exceptions, Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announced on Wednesday. This announcement comes after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new guidelines.

Indoor visits should be allowed at all time for all residents, except for circumstances that would be considered a high risk of COVID-19 transmission, the CSM said. These high risk scenarios include:

  • A resident is unvaccinated if the nursing home’s COVID-19 county positivity rate is >10% and <70% of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated.
  • A resident has a confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated. until they have met the criteria to discontinue Transmission-Based Precautions.
  • Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.

“These visits can occur in single occupancy rooms but are still discouraged in double occupancy rooms,” Dr. Box said. “Physical touch such as hugging is permitted for residents who are fully vaccinated, provided that the residents wear a well-fitted mask and preform hand hygiene before and after physical contact.”

Dr. Box added that facilities must allow up to two hours for visits unless unique circumstances make that impossible. These circumstances need to be discussed with the state’s regulatory division in advance.

Outdoor visits should be held whenever possible, the CMS website said. Facilities are encouraged to create accessible and safe outdoor spaces for visitation. However, Dr. Box said that “outdoor visitation will no longer be automatically suspended in the event of an outbreak.”

The CMS recently announced new guidelines for visitations in long-term care facilities. The guidelines that should be adhered to at all times include:

  • Face covering or masks (covering mouth and nose)
  • Hand hygiene (use of alcohol-based hand rub is preferred
  • Social distancing at least six feet between persons
  • Cleaning and disinfecting high-frequency touched surfaces in the facility often, and designated visitation areas after each visit

“These changes represent a vast improvement to the quality of life for our most vulnerable Hoosiers,” Dr. Box said. “And we know that many families will be extremely happy to reconnect with their loved ones.”

More recommendations and directions for facilities will be released in the near future.

To read the full guidelines recommended by CMS, click here.