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Changes made to testing requirements at nursing homes

New guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are now being followed by the state of Michigan.
Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 5:24 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Visitors at nursing homes are now under less restrictions.

New guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are now being followed by the state of Michigan.

“They aren’t using the words required,” said Wayne Johnson, Norlite Nursing Home Administrator. “They are using strongly recommended.”

This means a negative test for visitors at long-term care facilities is no longer mandated.

“It’s really up to the facilities now as long as there is no COVID residents within the facilities,” said Gary Gustafson, U.P. Assistant Healthcare Coordinator.

At Norlite, a visitor without a test will be allowed, but with strict guidelines.

“It is not a condition of admission, but at that point you will not be permitted to come within six feet of the resident,” said Johnson.

“I think it’s important for families, especially if they are looking to go visit loved ones at long-term care, to keep in mind that they are still very vulnerable,” said Gustafson.

For residents who are vaccinated, closer contact is now allowed from a visitor with a test.

“They do allow for a loved one to receive a hug so being that we don’t exceed the within six feet for longer than 15 minutes guidelines,” said Johnson.

Visitors are not the only ones seeing changes to testing policy. Staff will still be tested weekly at Norlite, but the more accurate PCR test will no longer be used.

“These more accurate, more expensive tests – starting Monday the state is longer going to reimburse us for those,” said Wayne. “So it’s going to be rapid antigen tests that the state is supplying for free, but they are much cheaper on the budget. The state budget which does introduce a little bit of uncertainty in this administrator’s brain.”

Norlite has had no resident cases since April 30th and 95% of residents are vaccinated.

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