April 19, 2021

Opening Iowa’s nursing homes safely

Iowa’s nursing homes and their direct care staff have done an exceptional job protecting the health of their vulnerable residents throughout this public health emergency. While the physical health of Iowans residing in nursing homes is extremely important, we must not forget the toll isolation from loved ones can have as well.

Last week, after a year of extremely limited visitation, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Department of Inspections and Appeals expanded their indoor visitation guidance at long-term care facilities. This guidance takes into consideration the Long Term Care Pharmacy Partnership Program, which as of March 12th has administered 139,142 vaccine doses to Iowa’s nursing home residents and staff. As of March 17th, there is only one nursing home out of 444 that has COVID-19 cases. The updated guidance requires nursing homes to allow indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of vaccination status of the resident, or visitor, unless these three instances arise:

  • Unvaccinated residents, if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is greater than 10% and less than 70 of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated;
  • Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met the criteria to discontinue transmission-based precautions; or
  • Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.

The guidance continues to have infection control recommendations for all visits, including screening of everyone entering the facility, face coverings, and 6-foot distancing.

Forum Schedule This year, due to COVID-19, we will be holding our forums through an online form called Webex. If you would like to take part in the forums, you will need to pre-register by emailing Representative Fry at joel.fry@legis.iowa.gov. Once you have emailed him, you will then receive an email 24 hours prior to each meeting with a link to join the meeting.

The schedule for our last forum for 2021 will be: April 1st at 12 p.m.