Nursing homes defend care, taking visitors again next week

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Residents of Rhode Island's nursing homes and assisted-living facilities will be able to welcome their loved ones again starting next week under new rules released Friday by the state Department of Health.

Guests will be allowed beginning Wednesday, provided the facilities adhere to strict infection control measures to keep residents, staff and family members safe.

The measures include limiting visitors to only people considered essential to the resident’s physical and emotional well-being.

Visits up to a maximum of 30 minutes must be scheduled in advance and all guests must be screened for coronavirus symptoms before they enter. Visits should be held outside when possible.

The facilities must also keep a log with names and contact information for all visitors.

Guests must wear face coverings and stay 6 feet (2 meters) from all staff and residents.

The state stopped in-person visits to nursing homes in March to protect the particularly vulnerable older population.

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NURSING HOMES DEFEND CARE

A Rhode Island nursing home trade group is defending the way its members cared for residents during the coronavirus pandemic, after Gov. Gina Raimondo pledged more scrutiny of the facilities as the state recovers.

Rhode Island’s “nursing homes and our workers fought tirelessly against this virus, yet without the proper tools and support, they were climbing uphill,” Rhode Island Health Care Association President and CEO Scott Fraser said in a statement, according to The Providence Journal.

“The homes have certainly received some monetary assistance, very small amounts of personal protective equipment and now have more regular testing, but in the initial two months of this virus, our calls for assistance were heard, but only slowly answered,” Fraser said.

Raimondo said earlier this week that more state support for nursing homes will include increased inspections to ensure compliance.

The Warwick-based trade group, which counts 65 nursing homes in its membership, said as of late June, 73% of Rhode Island’s COVID-19 deaths were associated with nursing homes, in line with neighboring states. Older people are particularly susceptible to the disease.

Fraser said stories of survival are overlooked.

Other virus-related developments in Rhode Island:

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NEW CORONAVIRUS CASES

The state Department of Health on Friday reported nearly 60 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one additional coronavirus-related death.

The number of people in the hospital with the disease in Rhode Island continues a slow but steady decline, the department said.

There were more than 60 people hospitalized, according to the latest data. Nine of the patients are in intensive care.

Rhode Island has now had almost 17,000 confirmed cases of the disease and 960 deaths.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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DRIVE-IN STANDUP

The first of four drive-in standup comedy shows at a Rhode Island drive-in movie theater is scheduled for this weekend.

The Laugh Boston shows at the Misquamicut Drive-in in Westerly and dubbed the “People in Cars Getting Comedy Drive-In" tour feature three comedians each, according to The Sun of Westerly.

While the comedians perform from a stage, the audience members stay in their cars so they can properly social distance in the coronavirus age.

The first show in Westerly is Sunday. Shows are also planned for July 19, Aug. 9 and Aug. 23.