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Health Department: Nursing homes should limit most visitors

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The New Mexico Department of Health announced on Saturday that it has ordered nursing homes to limit visitation to people whose loved ones are receiving end-of-life care.

The measure is aimed at minimizing the danger of COVID-19 spread, according to a press release from the department.

The department’s order requires that limited visitors allowed in should have their temperatures taken as a condition of entry, and visitors with a temperature over 100 degrees — or signs of respiratory infection — should be barred from entry and advised to seek medical attention; should, upon entry, wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available; and should be escorted by facility staff to and from a patient’s room.

At no time should they be out of the room unescorted, according to the press release.

The order also targets facilities providing assisted living, adult daycare, hospice and rehabilitation for older adult patients, according to a press release, and facilities “where older adults live or that provide services to them — are strongly encouraged to implement the recommendations as is reasonably appropriate.”

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The Aging and Long-Term Services Department has nine cameras and by March 16 will have 350 tablets that families can use for electronic visits, and the agency “is exploring other ways to keep residents in touch with loved ones,” the press release states.

Following this order may cause regulated nursing facilities to be in non-compliance with certain state regulatory requirements. “The state will not take enforcement action against any regulated nursing facility for implementing the order in good faith during the 30-day state of emergency that runs through April 9,” according to the press release.

For more information about nursing home visits or to request the use of a camera-tablet link, call the Long-Term Care Ombudsman at 866-451-2901. For general health questions about COVID-19, or if you have concerns you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, call the Health Department hotline at 855-600-3453. COVID-19 updates also are available at cv.nmhealth.org/.

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