MALONE — Due to a recent positive COVID-19 case among The Alice Center's staff, its Skilled Nursing Facility must wait until August before it can resume visitation.

Last week, the state Department of Health released criteria that nursing homes must meet in order to reopen for limited visitation.

Those included no new cases for 28 days, a threshold set by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

JULY 8 CASE

The Alice Center — which is University of Vermont Health Network, Alice Hyde Medical Center's long-term care facility — reported a positive COVID-19 case among its staff on June 17, followed by another July 8.

The latter means the nursing home will not be able to host limited visitation until, at the earliest, Aug. 5, Alice Hyde Associate Vice President of Long-Term Care Susan Biondolillo said in a press release.

Though housed in the same building, The Alice Center's Assisted Living Program is separate from the Skilled Nursing Facility and could be eligible for visits sooner.

“We know that the families and loved ones of our residents are anxious to see them in person after being unable to visit for such a long time,” Biondolillo said.

“Friday’s announcement brings us that much closer to enabling families to see their loved ones, and we are working hard to have a plan and protocols in place to ensure we can safely resume visits when we meet the state’s criteria.”

COMMITTED

In the meantime, The Alice Center will be working on the formal visitation plan it must submit to the state DOH for approval before allowing visitors.

The press release noted other restrictions, including a limit on the total number of visitors in the building at a time, the number of visitors residents can have and requirements for staffing, personal protective equipment and hygiene education for visitors.

Alice Hyde Senior Vice President and COO Matt Jones told the Press-Republican that none of the guidelines were seen as particularly challenging or a hindrance to reopening for visitation.

"We are committed to working in partnership with state health officials and developing and implementing policies and procedures that will ensure the health and safety of our Alice Center residents and employees, while giving them the opportunity to reconnect safely with loved ones," he continued.

"We know this has been an incredibly difficult time for many families, and our priority continues to be the health and safety of their loved ones who are in our care."

WORKING ON POLICIES

Jones said Alice Hyde is currently working to develop policies and procedures that will allow the Assisted Living Program to qualify for limited visitation.

"We will be communicating directly with residents and their designated points of contact as that work continues, and look forward to sharing more information with the community as the Assisted Living Program’s formal visitation plan is finalized and goes through the state’s approval process."

The state DOH suspended nursing home visitation in mid-March in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 into such facilities.

The Alice Center's response included a tele-visitation program through which residents could communicate with their loved ones via video meetings on smart phones, tablets and computers, the release said.

Email Cara Chapman:

cchapman@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @PPR_carachapman

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