Visitation restrictions at long-term care facilities will ease up slightly on September 15.
An order from the state health department will allow certain skilled nursing facilities, homes for the aged, and other long-term care facilities to hold outdoor visits for their residents, while maintaining safety measures such as distancing and mask-wearing requirements.
The rule-change is based on a idea from Michigan's nursing home task force, which delivered an expansive report to the governor last month recommending 28 changes to the way the state handles COVID-19 in nursing homes.
Currently, visits are only allowed for residents who are seriously ill or need help with activities like eating or washing.
Marquette County Medical Care Facility administrator Jerry Hubbard says he welcomes the outdoor visits, but looks forward to even more restrictions being lifted.
“We’re just hopeful that we’ll get some guidance that’ll allow us to do indoor visits safely,” he said. “But we need to get good guidance before we’d be able to do that.”
To Hubbard, that means clear instructions from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Amanda Williams, the assistant administrator at the Newaygo Medical Care Facility in Fremont, agrees. She says she wishes the outdoor visits had been allowed earlier.
“We’re rolling into, you know, September, October. And it’s not known to have warm, nice weather this time of year,” she said. “So I’m just sitting there going, where was this in July?”
She worries that cold and wet weather will make outdoor visits unfeasible for her facility’s elderly residents.
Many residents in Michigan’s long-term care facilities haven’t seen their families for six months.