As our community continues to carefully move through Phase Two of Knoxville’s reopening plan there is a lot to consider, especially when it comes to the health and safety of our elderly loved ones. There are new guidelines being put in place that may allow visitation and increased access to those who are in a long-term care facility. Read more below for a summary of the recent guidelines put forth by Governor Lee and the TN Department of Health.

Things to Know about Limited Visitation in Long-term Care Facilities, which includes Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities, and Residential Homes for the Aged

On June 10, 2020, Governor Lee released some guidelines for allowing limited visitation in Long-Term Care Facilities. When released by the TN Department of Health, the guidelines included further details. 

The facilities have basic criteria that must be met before they can begin to allow any visitation. Those criteria include:

  • All staff and residents must be tested once, on the same day. All nursing homes are required to test their staff every 7 days.
  • No new COVID-19 cases in staff or residents in the previous 28 days
  • Compliant with Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities regulations and infection control guidelines
  • Able to maintain staffing levels without resorting to crisis capacity strategies
  • Has a preparedness and response plan updated for COVID-19
  • Stable COVID-19 disease burden in the county where the facility is located. This is defined as </= an average of 10 new cases per 100,000 persons over the prior 14 days. That information can be found at the following website:

Visitor Guidelines

  • Visitors must make an appointment with the facility prior to visitation
  • Visitors must be limited to no more than 2 per resident at any one time
  • Visitors must wear a cloth mask. Staff and residents must wear surgical masks for the duration of the visit. A staff person must remain with the resident for the duration of the visit to supervise and enforce social distancing (>6 ft between resident and visitor, regardless of visitation setting)
  • Visitors must be screened with a symptom and temperature check immediately upon entry to the facility. If symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or temp>100.4 are present, the visitor should not be permitted to enter the facility

Possible Options for Visitation

A designated outdoor space

TDOH preferred visitation method is for visitor and resident to meet in a designated outdoor space. Visitors, residents, and staff must comply with the above mask requirement and maintain social distancing.

Visitation Booth

Visitor and resident meet in a designated indoor or outdoor space. If the space is indoors, it must have an external entrance for visitors to enter directly from outside the facility. All requirements are the same. Masks, social distancing, screening prior to entry for the visitor. 

In-room Visitation

All above requirements are the same, but also include the requirement of a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result from a sample taken during the 72 hours preceding the visit. This means you will need to have a test 72 hours before your visit and take your negative test results with you to the visit. If the sample was taken outside the 72 hour timeframe, you will not be allowed to visit. 

Visits for Compassionate Care, related to end of life, will be allowed to continue, and the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test will be waived under those circumstances. 

Please keep in mind facilities may make more stringent requirements in addition to what is outlined above. Facilities that are part of a larger company, with other facilities, may have more requirements as they cover a wider area. We recommend contacting the facility directly to ensure you have the most up to date information regarding visitation and how it may impact your loved one.