How Omicron Affects Nursing Home Visits

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses through its third year, healthcare organizations face new challenges. Older Americans in skilled nursing facilities are particularly vulnerable to the virus, especially the Omicron variant. Many facilities are taking new precautions, including modifying nursing visitation during COVID, to protect their residents. 

Changing Protocols

You may remember many public health emergency protocols in effect during 2020. These included limiting the number of visitors or discontinuing visitation under certain conditions. Non-essential visitations were also restrictions. 

While those have been abandoned, nursing facilities still observe infection prevention procedures. These were recommended via a revised March 2022 memo from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:

  • Practicing proper hand hygiene, including sanitizer
  • Requiring visitors to wear face coverings
  • Restricting the entry of people with COVID-19 symptoms

Local Health Guidelines

While CMS’ policy applies nationwide, some state and local agencies have stricter guidelines in place. This may cause confusion, as facilities administrators may not know which rules to follow. Though they may opt for adhering to the stricter guidelines, it’s still important to have a clear understanding before proceeding. 

The Omicron variant has prompted changes in how healthcare facilities respond to the pandemic. While it may be less severe than others, it’s also more contagious. Facility administrators should remain mindful of changing conditions and modify policies on nursing visitation during COVID as needed.