PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- It’s been nearly six months, but finally this week, families will be able to visit loved ones living in nursing homes across Arizona.

The state has rolled out a number of guidelines allowing for the visitations including having family members get checked for COVID-19.

Mark Aronauer helps oversee the well-being of the more than 350 residents at the Palazzo Senior Living center in Phoenix. He's relieved they’ve been given the green light to start allowing family members back inside.

“We saw the minds and emotions deteriorating for these residents sitting in their apartment for so long and not much to do,” said Aronauer.

The Arizona Department of Health Services approved guidelines allowing for in-person visits to nursing homes and other facilities. “So the recommendations, they are not perfect. But yes, if you have a family members and they have a loved one in a long term care facility, they can absolutely arrange for a visit to go see them physically,” said  Dana Kennedy with AARP Arizona. Kennedy said families should prepare, because visitation rules are strict. Here are some of the guidelines.

  • A visitor must show a negative COVID test, that is less than 48 hours old.
  • Visitor must sign forms stating that they have self-isolated in the time after the test was taken.
  • Face masks must be worn and hand sanitizer must be used
  • Facilities will keep a log of all visitors for contract tracing purposes. 
  • Touching your loved one is not allowed, so no hugs and no hand holding.

At the Palazzo, they figured out a way around physical interaction months ago, with their "Hug Room." 

"The family members can make an appointment and come and see their loved ones separated by this screen. The screen has holes with large gloves so they can give each other a hug before or after visits,” said Aronauer.

The new guidelines apply to all long-term care facilities in Arizona, including nursing homes, assisted living, independent living and residential care centers.

Facilities across the state have until September 4 to come up with a written plan for family members to follow to visit their loved ones.

Gov. Ducey announces task force for visitation at long-term care facilities

Back in July, Gov. Ducey established a task force to create the new guidelines for safe visitation at long-term care homes.


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