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Texas Health and Human Services recommends restricting nursing homes to staff, certain medical professionals and essential services

Facilities are encouraged to use alternate means of communication for residents to maintain contact with family and friends
Credit: Texas Health and Human Services

TEXAS, USA — According to the Texas Health and Human Services, to help protect older, medically fragile individuals from COVID-19 (coronavirus), they have expanded guidance to nursing homes that will include restricting access to staff, certain medical professionals and providers of essential services.

“At the direction of Governor Greg Abbott and effective immediately, we are now requiring nursing facilities to prevent non-essential visitors from access given the significant health and safety risk to residents posed by COVID-19,” said David Kostroun, HHS deputy executive commissioner for Regulatory Services. “These measures are precautionary and based on the state disaster declaration made by Governor Abbott, as well as new federal guidance.”

Nursing facilities are encouraged to use alternate means of communication such as FaceTime, Skype or other video or audio systems for residents to keep in contact with family and friends until further notice.

Screening protocols for anyone entering the facilities must also be implemented. Staff, medical professionals and other essential visitors must be screened using guidelines issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Only under certain compassionate care situations, such as end-of-life, can non-essential visitors be allowed in the facility.

HHSC staff are also conducting targeted inspections of facilities with a history of infection control deficiencies in the previous three years.

If a facility believes a resident, visitor, or employee might have been exposed or infected with COVID-19, it is required to immediately report it to their local health department or to DSHS.

Texas HHS is also requiring facilities to post signs at the entrance about access restrictions; check for fever of visitors, staff, and residents; suspend group gatherings; continue to monitor and isolate residents with fever or acute respiratory symptoms; provide infection control training to staff; execute frequent handwashing; and provide personal protective equipment to residents or staff as needed. For more information, visit the CDC’s site.

Providers are encouraged to stay up-to-date on the latest guidance by visiting the Texas HHS COVID‑19 page.

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