LEXINGTON, Ky. — Nursing homes can reopen to in-person visits as soon as Wednesday, July 15 under Gov. Andy Beshear's (D) guidance. However, not all will. According to the guidelines, the long-term care facilities classified as nursing homes can reopen if there have been no coronavirus cases within 28 days.
That means facilities like the nursing home at Sayre Christian Village in Lexington have a little while longer to wait. A staff member tested positive there July 7 according to CEO Karen Venis. Residents are still visiting with loved ones virtually and through windows.
"We've got to do a lot of preparations inside to get ready for visitors. It's not so much flipping a switch and opening the door," explained Venis.
Under the governor's direction, nursing homes can reopen if:
- there have been no cases within 28 days;
- the facility is staffed well and equipped with plenty of personal protective equipment;
- there's ample access to testing; and
- they keep in mind the status of bed capacity at nearby hospitals.
"There are a number of safeguards in effect," Beshear said Tuesday. "If we find that [nursing homes] are spread [through], then we'll have to look at it. We'll also have to continue to watch as the cases rise and what rate happens in the nursing homes. Now, the fact that we have tested everybody and are just getting through in all of the most significant long-term care facilities gives us some comfort."
Venis thinks it's too soon to allow guests, considering the work put in to keep the virus out to date. Although assisted living facilities could reopen to visitors as of June 29, Sayre Christian Village's Friendship Towers facility is still closed to guests also. In-person visits can resume there July 31.
"Because we see the numbers, the way they are specifically here in Fayette County, we want to be very cautious," she added.
As testing has been conducted almost continuously, Venis has another concern: how to pay for all the required tests. She hopes the CARES Act can get some funding through to the nonprofit.
Staff keeps residents optimistic by reminding them that, although the virus is being closed out, love can still get in. To that goal, residents are looking for pen pals to write them letters and keep them company. Here's how you can write: