Nursing homes and assisted living communities are strengthening screening and visitation rules

Nursing homes and assisted living centers are stiffening screening and visitation rules. For some , the honor system is history.  Visitors will face thermometers , kioks  and even more questions.

If you want to visit a patient at Fulton Center for Rehabilitation in Atlanta, you'll first have to answer some questions on this kiosk.  Asking if you have fever, a cough, or have travelled abroad recently.If the answer is "no," a staff member will check your temperature.This is part of life in a COVID-19 pandemic.Rickie Stinchcomb came to deliver a friend's mail, but changed his mind, even though he says he's feeling fine.

"I'm thankful that they stopped me, and wanted to check me and everything, to see if everything was okay.  So, it's a good thing," says Rickie Stinchcomb.

Nursing home staffer checks visitor's temperature

If a visitor does have fever or cough, Sol Heller, CEO of Empire Care Centers and other supervisors will immediately getan email alerting them.Heller is keenly aware of the dangers older adults and people with underlying health conditions face withthis virus.  An outbreak of COVID-19 at a skilled nursing center in the Seattle area sickened both patients and staff.So, Heller says his team has been working around the clock to get staff ready. The biggest challenge?

"I would say just keeping people calm, you know, that we've got this, and we'll deal with every step as it comes.  We're prepared," says Heller.

Nursing homes are cutting back on non-essential visitors, and have stopped taking patients on day trips out into the community. Heller, a volunteer first responder, says they're stepping up their infection control practices,  knowing there are lives on the line.

"We train our teams well. We keep on reiterating and reiterating.  I can't tell you how many times a day we are on the phone with our administrators, making sure they have everything down pat.  So, we're prepared for the worst, but we hope for the best."

The new guidance in Georgia can be found here for nursing centers and here for assisted living communities