By Kathleen Heren, Rhode Island State Long Term Care Ombudsman
This week the Governor signed an executive order which requires families and visitors to show proof of vaccination to visit residents in long-term care facilities. There are also some additional things you should know. If you remember in last month’s article, I wrote on how confusing it was that health care workers had to be vaccinated or they could not continue to work. Now common sense has prevailed.
When you now enter a long-term care facility, a visitor or an essential caregiver must either show proof of vaccination or proof they have had a rapid antigen test 48 hours before the visit. The visitors or caregivers must wear masks at all times. People who refuse to wear a mask can be denied admission. Signs will be posted to verify that masks are required.
Another sign will inform visitors they must show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid antigen test 48 hours before the visit. Anyone entering the facility that does not see these signs should question why the signs have not been posted. I know this is not the most exciting story I have written but it is important to know the rules.
It is my sincere hope you will comply with the new rules. My office has received complaints about this pandemic of visitors refusing to wear a mask. No one likes restrictions, I being one of them. It’s essential for the resident's well-being to use all the tools in the box to prevent the spread of Covid to this fragile population.
You are all aware of the deaths that occurred in our nursing homes before the vaccine. We now have weapons that will prevent this from happening again. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. If nothing more, I can be your sounding board. Please don’t take it out on the long-term care workers as they are more worn out than we are.
My office is available to help you with any concerns you may have. Our number is (401) 785-3340, Toll-free (888) 351-0808. I can also be reached by e-mail: email@example.com.
Ms. Heren provides a monthly guest blog to Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. in which she discusses issues and topics that come across her desk as the Rhode Island State Long Term Care Ombudsman. The opinions expressed in our guest blogs are those of the author(s) only. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Connelly Law Offices, Ltd, or its employees.