MALONE –– Although the state is now allowing limited nursing home visitation, a portion of The Alice Center will not be able to open its doors to visitors until Aug. 5 at the earliest after a former resident received a positive test result for the COVID-19 virus shortly after leaving the facility.
The positive test result is the first publicly acknowledged coronavirus case involving a resident in a Franklin County nursing home. Two nursing home employees –– one at The Alice Center and one at Mercy Living Center in Tupper Lake –– had tested positive for the virus earlier this year.
The positive test of The Alice Center employee was reported in mid-June and does not appear to have any relation to the resident’s positive test, which was reported July 8.
One of the state requirements for restarting visitation is that nursing homes be free of any new COVID-positive tests among staff or residents for at least 28 days.
The delay will affect the facility’s Skilled Nursing Facility. The Alice Center’s Assisted Living Program, which is housed in the same building but separate from the SNF, could be eligible for limited visitation earlier, according to a news release issued Tuesday.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker announced the easing of restrictions on nursing home visitation on Friday.
“We know that the families and loved ones of our residents are anxious to see them in person after being unable to visit for such a long time,” Alice Hyde Associate Vice President of Long Term Care Susan Biondolillo said in the release.
“Friday’s announcement brings us that much closer to enabling families to see their loved ones, and we are working hard have a plan and protocols in place to ensure we can safely resume visits when we meet the state’s criteria.”
The nursing home will work on a plan to return to visitation as the 28-day period continues, according to the release.
The Department of Health guidance issued on Friday requires all facilities to have a state-approved formal visitation plan before welcoming visitors. Other restrictions include limits on the total number of visitors in a facility at one time, the number of visitors any one resident may have, and requirements for staffing, personal protective equipment, and the education of visitors on hand and respiratory hygiene.
“There is no greater priority for us than the health and safety of our residents and employees,” said Alice Hyde COO Matt Jones.
“That commitment to safety continues to guide every decision we make and every policy we put into place, and this is no different. Reuniting families and loved ones is a critical piece of health care during the COVID crisis, and like every step we’ve taken during our re-opening, we’ll create and implement this plan cautiously and deliberately,” Jones said.
Restrictions on nursing home visitation began in March, and were not eased until Friday. In the meantime, The Alice Center has provided the option for what they call “tele-visitation,” where friends and family of residents can connect via video chat.