Montana Governor announces update on visitation in nursing homes, assisted living facilities

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Staff and wire report, Havre Daily News, June 26 2020

Some local nursing homes and assisted living facilities are looking at updated directives could allow some increased visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Steve Bullock announced Thursday an updated directive that permits safe visitation in nursing homes and assisted living facilities that are able to follow infection control protocols per guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I’d like to offer my thanks to the staff of residential facilities for older adults across Montana for all they have done and continue to do to keep Montanans safe and healthy,” said Governor Bullock. “We recognize this has been a particularly challenging time for Montana’s older adults and it’s our hope that these Montanans will be able to have some social interaction in safe ways with their loved ones.”

Wheat Country Estates in Chester just received the updated guidelines and Monday will be making a plan to implement changes based on them, Wheat Country Certified Nursing Assistant Shannon Polk said.

Sweet Memorial Nursing Home Administrator Rebecca Shackelsord said that the facility will be preforming tests for COVID-19 next week and they will make decisions about visitation based on the results for those tests.

Christen Obresley, vice president of regulatory and community services at Northern Montana Health Care, said people can request outside visitation for residents of Northern Montana Care Center as long as guidelines created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are able to be maintained.

Obresley said Northern Montana Health Care has been staying in line with CMS’s guidelines and will continue to do so as the state re-opens.

She said their number one priority is the protection of their residents and staff.

Bullock’s release said nursing care and assisted living facilities for older adults in Montana may allow visitors after giving notice to residents and family members. Visitation should be conducted in accordance with the strict screening, physical distancing, sanitation, hygiene, testing, and other infection control protocols set forth in the CMS and CDC guidance applicable to nursing homes. Before permitting visitation, facilities should review the applicable CDC and CMS guidance and determine that they are capable of following them.

CMS guidance can be found online at .

Governor Bullock’s April 22 Phase 1 reopening directive continued the suspension of visitation for all visitors and non-essential health care providers, except as for certain compassionate care situations.