Senior homes, loved ones await overdue guidance from DOH on new visitation

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GREECE, N.Y. (WROC) — Back in March –  a law was passed expanding visitation for those in nursing homes. The law, saying two or more designated caregivers can visit loved ones even if a home is undergoing visitation restrictions in a pandemic.

But there’s a catch.

Not all homes are ready to move forward with this just yet. This is the case for Bonnie Ackley’s mother, of Greece.

Ackley hasn’t been able to see her in-person – for most of the year. Only a few 45 minute visits in April.

“Residents have been stuck in their rooms for over a year, no socialization, they can’t even dine together,” said Ackley.

She says staff members keep testing positive for COVID-19  – causing the home to close off visitation. 

“Imagine just being in a room by yourself. And I see my mother failing,” she said.

The homes aren’t ready to move forward because the New York State Department of Health has not released instructions for how these homes can implement the new visitation. But they’re required to, within 45 days of the law going into effect.

Assemblyman Harry Bronson says they’re two weeks overdue. He says these regulations shouldn’t be complicated.

“They’re regulations for maintaining the records, make sure someone else isn’t coming in under falsehoods,” he said.

News 8 contacted the system that heads the home in Greece, Hamilton Manor. A spokesperson says they are going by the state’s guidance, and until the DOH releases those regulations – they will not be going forward with this new visitation law.

Bronson is fighting daily for updates from the state  – but answers are vague, he says.

“They are now in violation of the law, yet they don’t seem to have a sense of urgency,” he said.

The Department of Health says the following statement when News 8 reached out:

The DOH nursing home visitation guidance clearly states, Facilities should allow indoor visitation at all times and for all residents — regardless of vaccination status — except for a few circumstances when visitation should be limited due to a high risk of COVID-19 transmission and compassionate care visits should be permitted at all times.  DOH is developing regulations pertaining to the Essential Caregivers legislation.

Ackley says if she and her mother are both vaccinated –it doesn’t make sense to be waiting any longer.

But for now – she’s making her voice heard.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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