Florida Issues Rules Permitting Senior Living Visitation

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Since March, the Division of Emergency Management for the State of Florida has suspended visiting rights at senior living facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic to all but “compassionate care” situations (i.e., end of life situations) and “essential caregivers.” On September 1, 2020, the Division of Emergency Management issued Emergency Order No. 20-009 which expanded the list of potential facility visitors if a facility and the visitor meet certain requirements.

Although full and unrestricted visitation rights otherwise mandated by the Florida Statutes remains suspended, the new order now allows general visitation and “essential visitors” under certain circumstances and provides facilities with more guidance as to what standard they must maintain to allow such visitors.

To allow visitation under the new order, a facility must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Other than in a dedicated wing or unit that accepts COVID-19 cases from the community, the facility must have no new facility-onset of resident COVID-19 cases in the previous fourteen (14) days;
  2. The facility must have fourteen (14) days with no new facility-onset of staff COVID-19 cases where a positive staff person was in the facility in the ten (10) days prior to the positive test;
  3. Sufficient staff to support management of visitors;
  4. Adequate PPE for staff, at a minimum;
  5. Adequate cleaning and disinfecting supplies; and
  6. Adequate capacity at referral hospitals for the facility.

General visitors must also meet a number of requirements:

  1. Be eighteen (18) years of age or older;
  2. Wear a face mask and perform proper hand hygiene;
  3. Sign a consent form noting understanding of the facility’s visitation and infection prevention and control policies;
  4. Comply with facility-provided COVID-19 testing, if offered;
  5. Visit in a resident’s room or other facility-designated area; and
  6. Maintain social distance of at least six feet with staff and residents, and limit movement in the facility.

Essential Caregivers and Compassionate Care Visitors, who are expected to have closer and more regular contact with residents, have a more restrictive set of requirements:

  1. Wear a surgical mask and other PPE as appropriate. PPE for essential caregivers and compassionate care visitors must be consistent with the most recent CDC guidance for health care workers;
  2. Participate in facility-provided training on infection prevention and control, use of PPE, use of masks, hand sanitation, and social distancing, and sign acknowledgement of completion of training and adherence to the facility’s infection prevention and control policies;
  3. Comply with facility-provided COVID-19 testing, if offered;
  4. Provide care or visit in the resident’s room or in facility-designated areas within the building; and
  5. Maintain social distance of at least six feet with staff and other residents and limit movement in the facility.

Additionally, the facility may require essential caregivers and compassionate care visitors to submit to facility-provided COVID-19 testing so long as use of testing is based on the most recent CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance.

A full copy of the Order, which contains additional restrictions and requirements (such as the requirement that facilities establish areas for visitors to meet with residents), can be found here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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