On March 10, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee issued Proclamation 20-06. The proclamation was amplified in a statement from the Washington State Department of Health. As a result, all nursing homes and assisted living communities throughout Washington must comply with the following, effective now until midnight on April 9:
- Each adult resident is permitted one visitor per day, and visitation is to be held in the resident’s room. No other visitations are allowed. The prohibition on the number of visitors does not apply in end of life situations.
- All visitors allowed to visit must be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to entry. Symptoms include a fever of 100.4 or higher, cough, or difficulty breathing, or contact with a person with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 in the last 14 days, or are under investigation for COVID-19.
- All visitors must show identification. Visitors must also sign a visitor log that includes the date, time in and out, and contact information including a phone number and email address if available. Operators must retain visitor logs for 30 days.
- Nursing homes and assisted living communities must screen persons working or volunteering in a community for symptoms of COVID-19. Nursing homes and assisted living communities are prohibited from allowing a person to work or volunteer in the facility unless the person has been screened at the start of every shift and does not show any symptoms associated with COVID-19, including fever of 100.4 or higher, cough, or difficulty breathing.
- In addition to required screening at the start of every shift, the following best practices regarding staff should be implemented:
- Restrict non-essential personnel (e.g. barbers, deliver persons, etc.).
- Actively monitor staff for illness, and if signs of respiratory illness are shown, have them put on a mask immediately and self-isolate at home.
- Ask for ill staff to be tested for COVID-19.
- Keep a record of other facilities where staff are working to avoid cross-contamination.
- Have staff who are providing direct resident care use protective gear such as gloves, gowns, facemasks, and eye protection.
- If a nursing home or assisted living community has one or more residents, staff, contractors or volunteers subject under order or recommendation for quarantine for COVID-19, those individuals must be isolated in their rooms away from other people. A resident can choose to discharge from a facility at any time.
- Owners, administrators, operators, staff and volunteers are prohibited from disclosing protected and confidential health information except as otherwise provided by law (to medical providers, caregivers, DHS, Washington Department of Health, and CDC, for example) or with consent from the resident.
Additionally, several statutory and regulatory provisions pertaining to resident rights are waived and suspended until midnight on April 9:
- Resident’s rights to receive visitors and to grant or withdraw consent to visitors.
- Resident’s rights to designated meeting spaces, to interact with the community, and to participate in activities both inside and outside of the community.
- Resident’s right to receive notice before the resident’s room or roommate in the facility is changed.
Although not specifically addressed in the Proclamation, we advise that nursing homes and assisted living communities suspend tours of the community until the Proclamation is lifted or until further guidance from local and state authorities is issued. If you plan to continue to provide tours of your communities and facilities, ensure you are following strict screening protocols to check for symptoms of COVID-19 and do not allow entry to anyone who does not pass your screening criteria.