NEW LEXINGTON — As the coronavirus (COVID-19) still holds its grip on the people of Ohio, some regulations have been lifted since the initial confirmed cases. As part of the state’s efforts to get things back to normal, new director’s orders are getting Ohio’s nursing homes ready for public interaction.

The Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton signed, on June 4, a third amended director’s order seeking to limit the public access to Ohio’s nursing homes and similar facilities. The order comes with some exceptions.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, the restrictions established on the March 13 order remain in effect meaning nursing homes must continue to restrict access only to personnel who are necessary to the daily operations.

Personnel who are defined as necessary for the operations of the homes may include, but are not limited to, staff, contracted and emergency healthcare providers, contractors conducting critical on-site maintenance and governmental representatives included with regulators and their contractors.

The order for nursing homes also states that no visitors of a residence shall be admitted to any home, unless there are reasons such as “end of life situations.”

The state’s health department also outlines that all individuals and personnel must be screened for COVID-19 each time they enter the facility. Guidance when it comes to screening is able to be viewed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Ohio Department of Health also has its own guidance for screenings.

Screenings for visitors should include questions about exposure to COVID-19 as well as assessing them and personnel for coughing, shortness of breath and body temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher. This amended order does not apply to exigent circumstances, to emergency medical services, first responders and similarly situated individuals.

A home facility should seek to have few points of entry into the building as possible. The Ohio Department of Health recommended in the order that homes should have just one designated point of entry. However, this order does not cover aspects such as emergency property rights of a certain facility.

Individuals who are allowed into a facility must provide legal federal or state identification or other “satisfactory” form of identification or be a person known to the home. Individuals would also need to provide the facility with a business telephone number and address.

According to the department of health, the facility is responsible for the logging of visitors which includes a contact number and address. The log is set to be maintained at all Ohio homes for a period of at least six months.

Effective on June 8, residential care facilities may permit residents to have visitors in outdoor settings within accordance guidelines. The order will remain in full effect until Director Acton rescinds or makes modifications to the amended orders.

As of April 15, the Ohio Department of Health has reported a total of 5,911 confirmed COVID-19 cases in residents and 2,695 confirmed cases in staff members.

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