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Families May Soon Visit Loved Ones Outside Of Nursing Homes

Delmar Gardens of Chesterfield's building on May 22, 2020.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri health officials are advising nursing homes to allow outdoor visits if no residents or workers have tested positive for the coronavirus for at least four weeks.

Nursing homes could soon allow families to visit their loved ones outdoors. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services released guidelines Monday for nursing homes and assisted living facilities so that people can visit residents outdoors or at open windows, if the resident cannot leave their room. 

Nursing homes have restricted access to visitors since March to reduce the risk of infection. More than 250 nursing home residents in Missouri have died of COVID-19, according to data the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid released this month.

NHC Healthcare in Maryland Heights reported that 21 residents have died from the coronavirus, the highest of any long-term care facility in Missouri. 

Long-term care facilities will determine the logistics of allowing people to visit residents. State health officials recommend that nursing homes make sure visitors are screened for symptoms, wash hands regularly and wear face coverings. 

State health officials recommend that people delay visiting a nursing home resident who tested positive for the coronavirus at least three days after the patient has recovered and at least 10 days since the first appearance of symptoms. 

When families visit their loved ones, they probably will become concerned that residents are not receiving enough care, said Marjorie Moore, executive director of VOYCE, an organization that advocates for nursing home residents. Nursing homes have restricted access to visitors for more than three months. 

“It is likely that they will see a deterioration in mental and physical health over this time period, first because of the conditions that require them to live in such a setting in the first place, and also because of the long isolation,” Moore said.

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Eli is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.