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Board rescinds ban on "window visits" at nursing homes

(NBC15)
Published: Apr. 14, 2020 at 11:24 AM CDT
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A Wisconsin agency has revoked its guidance that would have ended so-called "window visits" to the state's nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The visits started as coronavirus swept the nation and nursing homes and assisted living facilities barred visitors entering the buildings to see their loved ones, who are some of the most vulnerable to the virus. In response, family and friends who wanted to visit would do so through the windows of the facilities.

On Monday, the state's Board on Aging and Long Term Care issued guidance that the so-called “window visits” would be prohibited. It was pulled the next day after the Evers Administration intervened.

A spokesperson for Gov. Tony Evers, Britt Cudaback told NBC15 the plan did not reflect the Administration's position on the issue. Cudaback noted that no agency can issue guidelines that conflict with the "Safer at Home" order, therefore it was not valid.

The board has since issued revised guidance removing the clause about "window visits."

The updated rules also remind seniors they should not leave the homes unless they need to pick up essential needs, like groceries or medication. Anyone over 65 or with a chronic health condition should ask someone else to pick up the supplies.

In addition to possibly getting sick themselves, the agency warns that anyone who leaves risks bringing coronavirus back with them, which could get others sick too.

The Board did offer some suggestions to visit family members. For in-person visits, by contacting the nursing home or assisted living facility. A pre-screening will be required, plus visitors will likely be escorted through the building to make sure they go directly to their family member’s room.

Alternative ways to visit include:

  • Use Facetime, Skype or other mobile media, if your resident has access to a device, or as arranged by the home.
  • Send extra cards, notes, postcards, being sure to keep your message short and positive.
  • Phone your resident often, but please try not to call during the busiest times of day if staff need to assist your resident with the phone.
  • If your resident is unable to talk on the phone or use mobile media to stay in touch, ask the staff if someone can call you periodically to give you an update about how your resident is doing.

After the initial prohibition was announced, former Wisconsin Senator Leah Vukmir

to blast the decision. She noted how she had recently visited her mother through her window and said Gov. Tony Evers "has gone too far" with the edict.