Fountain Circle to resume visitation

Signature HealthCARE nursing homes in Kentucky, including Fountain Circle Health and Rehabilitation in Winchester, may soon reopen to visitors.

On Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that long-term care facilities could reopen to visitors Monday, March 15, in accordance with new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued March 10.

“This is an exciting time for Signature HealthCARE, its residents and amazing families. We all have been looking forward to this day and are truly encouraged by the new government guidelines,” Ann Bowdan Wilder, a spokesperson for Signature HealthCare, said in a press release.

The new guidelines “reflect the extraordinary progress made in the fight against COVID-19 by the successful implementation of vaccines within our facilities and the dedication and commitment of our heroic staff to care for our nation’s most vulnerable population,” Wilder said. “As a result, Signature HealthCARE’s facilities will be reopening to allow responsible in-person visitation for our residents and families in accordance with the new guidelines.”

When asked when Fountain Circle might reopen, Wilder could not give a specific date but responded in an email: “Our facilities are working hard on reviewing these guidelines and must first ensure they are properly prepared to meet those new guidelines before expanded resident visitation in their facility can occur. This is for the utmost safety of our residents, staff and community. We are asking family members to keep in contact with their loved one’s specific facility for upcoming updates regarding reopening to in-person visitation.”

Wilder said that, as Signature’s facilities prepare to reopen, visitors should note that outdoor visitation will always be the preferred manner for in-person visitation. This strictly follows the recommended CMS guidelines, which advocates outdoor visitation whenever practicable, as outdoor visits pose a lower risk of transmission due to increased space and airflow.

“We must remember, even with many in our population being vaccinated for COVID-19 and with the new guidelines being implemented to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission, these actions do not and will not completely eliminate the risk. Therefore, as our nursing home population still remains vulnerable to COVID-19 and other viruses, like the flu, we must ask that our communities and families diligently adhere to the new guidelines in each of our facilities, as set by CMS and their specific states,” she said.

They include but are not limited to:

• Visitor screening, including temperature checks, a COVID-19 questionnaire and symptom observation, all which must be passed.

• Precautionary infection control measures, including hand hygiene requirements.

• Visitor masks (covering mouth and nose) and other personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements.

• In advance scheduling of visits. Unscheduled or walk-in visits are not permitted.

• Visitor social distancing at least six feet apart from all persons.

• Limited visitation times so all residents can be accommodated.

• Posting of facility signage indicating COVID-19 signs, symptoms and best mitigation practices.

• Residents and staff COVID-19 testing, as regulations require.

While CMS does not require visitors to be fully vaccinated, their guidelines and Signature HealthCARE strongly encourage visitors be fully vaccinated for the utmost protection of loved ones in long-term care facilities. Furthermore, facilities may still prevent visitation based on a variety of factors under the new guidelines. In particular:

• Unvaccinated residents will not be permitted to have visitors if the surrounding county’s COVID-19 positive rate is above 10%, or less than 70% of residents in a facility have been fully vaccinated.

• Residents who have been confirmed COVID-19 positive will not be able to receive visitors until they meet testing criteria that allows discontinuation of transmission-based protocols.

• Quarantined residents cannot accept visitors until criteria is met to be released from quarantine.

• If a new case of COVID-19 is identified within a facility, visitation will be suspended until one round of facility-wide testing is complete to determine needed protocols.

“We have looked forward to the day when our residents, families, and staff could once again enjoy seeing loved ones in-person,” said E. Joseph Steier, III, president and CEO of Signature HealthCARE. “Now, that time has finally come. We know from our own separation from our families how difficult these days have been. We cannot thank our families and communities enough for your gracious understanding, thoughts, prayers and support during these challenging days and it gives us great pleasure to begin reopening our doors again under these new government guidelines. We are all in this pandemic fight together, and our goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy as we continue to press on toward brighter days.”