State GOP representatives pick up nursing home probe

Daily News File PhotoGreat grandchildren Jude Sherman, 12, and Jenna Sherman, 8, of Le Roy wish their great-grandmother Rose Sherman a happy 104th birthday in June. The family had to celebrate from opposites side of the window at the Le Roy Village Green due to COVID-19 restrictions on nursing home visitors.

Le Roy Village Green allowing in-person visits

LE ROY — Thirty-minute increments with appointments — that’s how friends and family of LeRoy Village Green Residential Healthcare Facility’s residents have been allowed to visit for the past few weeks.

The in-person, outdoor visits began July 28 and they are allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p,m. the facility said Wednesday. Appointments may be made and residents are limited to two visitors at a time.

“We are immensely pleased to have reached this major milestone. Our health care heroes worked very hard to comply with all the necessary New York state, CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and county health department requirements in order to offer limited visits,” Samantha Vagg, administrator of the Village Green, said in a press release issued in response to emailed questions by The Daily News. “The visits have delighted our families and raised the spirits of our residents. Everyone is so excited to see their loved ones again.”

No visitation will take place in residents’ rooms except for medical necessity or end-of-life services, Vagg said.

“LeRoy Village Green recognizes that some residents and their families may wish to continue safer forms of visitation such as online chats, which will continue,” Vagg said.

New York health officials banned outside visitors to nursing homes on March 13 as part of an effort to contain the coronavirus. Early in the ban, LeRoy Village Green offered virtual visits.

In July, state health officials announced that nursing homes could resume in-person visits if they met a number of criteria, such as remaining without COVID-19 for at least 28 days, a threshold set by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

In-person visitors must adhere to multiple health precautions.

“This resumption of limited visits does not mean that we are relaxing our precautions in any way. Our staff will continue to follow rigorous safety protocols and all visitors will be required to do so as well,” Vagg said.

For in-person visits, face masks covering both nose and mouth for residents and visitors, as well as social distancing of 6 feet. No touching of residents, hand shaking or hugging is allowed. Visitors may be required to use hand sanitizer, wear additional personal protective equipment and they will be instructed on good hygiene prior to a visit. Minors under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. Screening of visitors includes a temperature check, health questions and travel questions. LeRoy Village Green will maintain records of the screenings.

All visitation areas will be cleaned and disinfected after each use, using an Environmental Protection Agency-approved disinfectant. Any resident in a 14-day quarantine or observation period will not be allowed visitors, except for end-of-life visits. Non-medical appointments are still prohibited.

The VA took steps early in the pandemic, limiting visitors to protect its most vulnerable patients, VA Western New York Healthcare System Public Affairs Officer Evangeline Conley. Initially, visitors to community living centers, such as the one on Richmond Avenue in Batavia, and spinal cord injury and disorder centers, were limited.

“That’s why VA nursing homes across the country have few, if any, COVID-19 cases. That’s in sharp contrast to the performance of many non-VA nursing homes,” she said. “There are currently no COVID positive residents at the Batavia community living center.”

Visitation has been suspended at all VA facilities since mid-March, per VA guidelines, Conley said. She noted veterans homes such as the one on the VA grounds in Batavia are run by individual states, not the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.

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