COVID-19 Coronavirus and Impact on Nursing Homes, Long-Term Care Facilities and Senior Centers

Updated 3/25/2020 9:45 a.m.

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The Vermont Long-Term Care Ombudsman Project promotes the rights of people getting long-term care services. If you have questions or concerns, contact us. Long-Term Care Ombudsmen are working and available by phone during the COVID-19 crisis. Call us at 1-800-889-2047 or fill out our online form.

Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, the State of Vermont has placed prohibitions and restrictions on visiting nursing homes, residential care homes and assisted living residences. This is because older people are more likely to get seriously ill from the virus. (See page 2 of the Governor’s Executive Order Executive Order No. 01-20.)

Here’s a summary of the restrictions and prohibitions placed on visiting nursing homes, residential care homes and assisted living residences:

1. Nursing homes

Visitor access is prohibited.

Exemptions to the prohibition are:

  • Medically Necessary Personnel
  • Visitors for residents receiving end-of-life care

2. Residential Care Homes & Assisted Living Residences

Visitor access is prohibited.

Exemptions to the prohibition are:

  • Two designated visitors for each resident
  • Medically Necessary Personnel
  • Visitors for residents receiving end-of-life care

Note: Any visitor to a nursing home, residential care home or assisted living residence will be screened using the recommendations issued by the Vermont Department of Health.

Do not go to a facility if you are sick or may have been in contact with someone with the virus. Consider using the phone or the internet to visit with a loved one.

Adult Day and Senior Centers & Food Delivery

On March 16, adult day and senior centers received guidance from the state recommending that they close until at least April 15, 2020.

While adult day and senior centers are closed, home delivered meals are an option for those who may need them. Contact the local Area Agency on Aging for more information about nutrition services at 1-800-642-5119.

The State of Vermont’s guidance to adult day and senior centers, along with other information about congregate sites and long-term care facilities, can be found on the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living website.

COVID-19 testing and residents returning to nursing homes, residential care homes or assisted living facilities

Question: Does a resident need a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to return to their facility after being in the hospital for reasons unrelated to COVID-19?

Answer: No. Current guidance from the State of Vermont states that these facilities cannot have a policy that requires testing for residents:

  • who have been hospitalized for reasons unrelated to COVID-19, and
  • don't have COVID-19 symptoms, and
  • want to return to the nursing home, residential care home or assisted living facility.

They do not need to remain hospitalized until testing negative for COVID-19.

Note that currently Vermont Department of Health guidelines say testing is not available for people without symptoms. Not allowing these residents to return has the effect of reducing bed capacity at hospitals for acutely ill patients during this crisis.

More information: The Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) website.

Updated: Mar 31, 2020