Yesterday Governor Jay Inslee announced guidance for long term care facilities to offer visitation and other activities for residents and patients. Long term care facilities were required to limit visitation and curtail social activities for residents and visitors earlier this year due to COVID-19. Inslee was joined by Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Secretary Cheryl Strange, DSHS Assistant Secretary Bill Moss, and Secretary of Health John Wiesman at a press conference for the announcement.
The plan goes into effect August 12, and even after it becomes effective, individual facilities must meet additional parameters related to staffing, PPE and testing prior to opening visitation. The plan includes a number of public health metrics that must be met in order for facilities to move through the phases. It is modeled after the Safe Start Plan. While Inslee mentioned that providers would have to submit applications for phased-in visitation, this is not the case. There is no formal application process required for opening visitation and other social activities.
To move forward in phases, long term care facilities must go 28 days without a resident or staff member testing positive for COVID-19. Facilities must also have at least a 14-day supply of PPE on hand.
A facility cannot move forward a phase in the long term care plan unless the county it is located in has advanced to at least that phase in the Safe Start plan. For example, if a facility is in a Phase 2 county, it cannot move to Phase 3 in the long term care plan before the county moves to Phase 3 in the Safe Start plan.
Additionally, for every facility, there must be a review of key metrics evaluating a county's COVID-19 risk. Higher disease transmission rates will keep a facility at an earlier phase, even if other criteria are met.
For a quick review of the long term care phases, click here. Click here for a quick description of what is allowed in long term care. Additionally, the Department has offered guidance and analysis of risk for use with residents and families for trips into the community.