Indiana officials announce changes to visitation, testing in long-term care facilities

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Wednesday, Indiana officials provided an update on their response to COVID-19 in long-term care facilities including visitation and testing.

As the COVID-19 outbreak started to impact Indiana, officials with the state department of health placed restrictions on visitors at long-term care facilities to reduce the spread of the virus.

“We recognize that isolation has serious impacts on the health and the well-being of the residents in these facilities,” said Dr. Dan Rusyniak, Indiana FSSA chief medical officer.

On Wednesday, Indiana officials announced that guidance has been released that allows some long-term care facilities to offer outdoor visitations.

Rusyniak says this will depend on COVID-19 numbers in the community and each individual facility.

“We believe that the risk of COVID transmission in long-term care facilities and the need for family, partners, close friends, and those interactions can be balanced,” Rusyniak said.

Officials say this is not a final solution, but it is a start.

“We recognize that this will not allow everyone in a facility to be visited at this time. This just a first step. ISDH and FSSA will continue to work with our partners in long term care to develop a series of steps that will bring us closer to a time when all family and friends can visit the ones they love,” Rusyniak said.

Also on Wednesday, it was announced that every employee at these facilities will be tested for the virus during the month of June.

“We know that the majority of COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities occur when a staff member contracts the virus and unknowingly brings it into the facility,” Rusyniak said.

Officials say they data they receive from the testing of employees will be critical moving forward.

“The data we collect from this and the Fairbanks study together will better inform us on who in a nursing home needs to be tested, and then in the future how frequently that needs to occur,” Rusyniak said.

Rusyniak says all visitors to long-term care facilities will be screened, including temperature checks.

As of Wednesday, the Indiana State Department of Health reports that 46% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have occurred at long-term care facilities.

Although the high percentages reported at these facilities, officials say they are actually seeing a decline in cases and deaths related to COVID-19.

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