FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2021
Visitation Eases for Long Term Care Facilities as Case Counts Decrease and more Seniors get Vaccinated
New guidance for New Mexico’s Assisted Living and Nursing Home facilities is in effect as of Thursday, March 25th
NEW MEXICO – It’s long-awaited news- today, New Mexico’s Long Term Care facilities can start to relax their visitation policies.
“This vicious virus has taken so much from all of us, but especially long-term care residents. We are overjoyed to announce that we are making progress- we are seeing cases decrease and more people are choosing to protect themselves and their loved ones by receiving the vaccine- this means facilities can safely start to offer in-person visitation options to their residents and their loved ones,” said Aging and Long Term Services [ALTSD] Cabinet Secretary Katrina Hotrum-Lopez.
The new visitation guidelines include parameters surrounding outdoor visitation (preferred), indoor visitation, close contact, communal dinning and activities, and reiterate best practices for visitors, what to do when there is a positive case, and ongoing testing expectations. All activities still include mask wearing and social distancing:
- Outdoor visitation remains the preferred method of visiting, even for those who are fully vaccinated, as the environment poses a lower risk for transmission.
- Indoor visits are also allowed under the new guidance, with requirements surrounding the size of the room and number of occupants.
- If a resident is fully vaccinated, they may choose to have close contact with their visitor, this could include hugging, holding hands, etc., while wearing their mask and washing/sanitizing their hands afterwards.
- Communal dining and social activities are also now allowed, so long as social distancing requirements continue to be followed.
- All testing, infection control measures, and public health instructions (like mask wearing and social distancing- 6ft for those wearing masks and 12ft for residents who are unable to be masked) remain in place and must be followed.
- If there is an outbreak, the facility must pause visitation until all requirements in the guidance have been met.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, but thanks to more and more New Mexicans being vaccinated and the number of new cases declining, visitation is now possible where the rate of active COVID cases are low,” said Department of Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins.
All of the new activity options are still linked to County positivity rates and not permitted in facilities experiencing an outbreak, until they have followed the necessary criteria:
Visitors will be instructed to monitor themselves for any COVID- related symptoms after the visit and should they become symptomatic or test positive, immediately inform the long-term care facility.
In addition to the expanded visitation options, the new guidance also allows the State Ombudsman (resident advocates who ensure resident rights are being respected and upheld) back in the long-term care facilities. The Ombudsmen act as accountability advocates for residents and over the past year most of their efforts have needed to be virtual.
“State Ombudsman will now shift to in person consultations and continue to advocate and investigate on behalf of residents, we encourage family members to work together with us to ensure resident rights are protected,” said State Ombudsman Zack Quintero.
For a list of green, yellow, and red Counties, based on their positivity, visit: https://cv.nmhealth.org/long-term-care-guidelines/ and click on the “County Positivity Rate”. It is updated every two weeks. To view the updated visitation guidelines in full, click on “LTC Facility Guidance”.
ALTSD continues to work with their Federal Pharmacy Partners to vaccinate LTC residents. The third round of vaccination clinics are expected to be completed at the end of the month.