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The State Health Department has eased COVID-19 restrictions on visitation at adult care facilities.

Visitation can resume at adult care facilities if they have no new confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents or staff for a 14-day period, reduced from 28 days, the New York State Department of Health announced yesterday.

The facilities must also have completed a N.Y. Forward Safety Plan to be eligible for in-person visitation.

The health department did not change the rule for nursing homes, which are still required to be COVID-free for 28 days — a standard the congregate care facilities have struggled to meet.

Adult care facilities include adult homes, enriched housing programs and residences for adults, which provide temporary or long-term, non-medical residential care services to adults who are substantially unable to live independently, according to health department regulations.

Mary Ann Mangels, administrator at Acadia Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation in Riverhead — a skilled nursing facility still subject to the 28-day rule — said if the new rule for adult care facilities does not result in an uptick in COVID-19 cases at those facilities, she believes the health department will change the rule for nursing homes too.

The revision for adult care facilities was applauded by the New York State Health Facilities Association and the New York State Center for Assisted Living, a statewide association representing over 425 long-term care facilities.

“Adult care facilities throughout New York have made incredible strides in eradicating COVID-19 and today’s revised visitation policy recognizes the success of their enormous efforts in battling this virus,” said Stephen Hanse, president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association and the New York State Center for Assisted Living.

The association has been working with state regulators to revise the rule, Hanse said.

“It has been since early March of this year that adult care residents have been unable to receive visitors in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While NYSCAL providers and their residents have become skilled at using various digital communication platforms to connect with loved ones, digital interaction doesn’t compare to the joy of in-person interaction,” he said.

“The policies announced today by the Department of Health are thoughtful and truly safeguard residents, staff and visitors while allowing in-person resident visitation in adult care facilities. We are hopeful that a similar plan will soon be implemented for skilled nursing facilities,” Hanse said.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.