NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — If you have a loved one at a long-term care facility, you may be able to visit them now.
As of February 28, Tennessee has dropped visitation restrictions for nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Officials said the decision was made after 100% of residents who elected to be vaccinated had completed both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
But even with state restrictions lifted, facilities still have to follow federal guidelines.
Nursing homes have to follow Medicare and Medicaid policies, which say the facilities must not have any new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks.
Health officials acknowledged the extraordinary challenges that long-term care facilities have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The health and safety of vulnerable Tennesseans, especially our long-term care residents, remains our top priority, and our comprehensive and persistent efforts to protect this population from COVID-19 have saved lives," said Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey. "Now that vaccinations at all long-term care facilities are nearing completion, we are ready to transition to a more sustainable approach of following these best practices for safe operation of long-term care facilities in Tennessee."
Families are controlling their excitement about the restrictions being lifted. They have seen restrictions decreased and increased during the pandemic.
"The COVID regulations... by the time they could get a grip on how to let families visit they would change," said Thomas Sullivan. "The state would change the regulations."
Thomas Sullivan's mother lives at the Hartsville Convalescent Center in Trousdale County.
He will be happy when there are no restrictions at all, because they can be confusing.
"I've tried to do this with an understanding heart because it's taken a toll on the worker just like it's taken a toll on the families," Sullivan said.
Because facilities can implement their own rules, call before you visit.