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Signature HealthCARE: Outlook to Florida Visitation Reopening: Safety is Paramount

Staff Report

WASHINGTON AND HOLMES COUNTY - On September 1, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the lifting of certain visitation restrictions for long-term care and skilled nursing facilities in the state of Florida, restrictions that have been in place for the last several months to protect our long term care residents, staff and families from COVID-19. As Signature HealthCARE has received multiple calls concerning this announcement, we would like to clarify our responsibilities and outlook in reopening our 21 Florida skilled nursing and long-term healthcare facilities. 

Since Governor DeSantis’ announcement, Signature HealthCARE has been working diligently, with a sense of great urgency every day, to devise a plan and the protocols that will permit us to reopen our Florida skilled nursing and long-term healthcare facilities for limited outdoor visitation, as soon as possible. Outdoor visitation with loved ones may resume only if certain strict requirements are met as mandated under the Governor’s guidelines, as well as those from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and our state and local Departments of Health. The Governor’s Executive Order can be found here: https://www.floridadisaster.org/news-media/news/20200901-florida-division-of- emergency-management-issues-emergency-order-to-lift-visitation-restrictions-in-nursing- homes-assisted-living-facilities-and-other-long-term-care-facilities/ 

At this time, Signature HealthCARE is seeing more recoveries each day, indicating our fight is producing positive outcomes. That is why we must remain vigilant in protecting our residents and staff. Safety for all is paramount and making sure all of the above government requirements are met and are operational, is our top priority. 

When our facilities do open for outdoor visitation very soon, visitors can expect to follow new policies and protocols in order to visit with loved ones in the safest environment possible. These policies will include, but are not limited to: 

● Precautionary infection control measures 

● Visitor screening measures 

● Visitor mask and other protective equipment requirements 

● Advanced scheduling of visits 

● Limited visitation times so that all residents can be accomodated 

“We all look forward to the day when residents, families, and staff can celebrate and hug and embrace in person,” said Signature HealthCARE Florida Operations President, Jamey Richardson. “We know that kind of social engagement and physical connection is vital to personal health. But we must reach this goal safely, and with a plan in place that cannot be rushed or compromised, for the safety of all involved.” 

In addition to the reopening of our Florida facilities to limited outdoor visitation very soon for our residents and families, Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order also mentions the lifting of visitation restrictions for essential and compassionate caregivers. With the same degree of diligence and urgency we are using to prepare for limited outdoor family visitation, Signature HealthCARE is reviewing its protocols and the measures that need to be taken to safely allow essential and compassionate caregivers to once again visit our long-term care and skilled nursing facilities to provide additional services and healthcare to uphold the quality of life for our residents and their activities of daily living. 

Signature HealthCARE and its Florida facilities are moving as quickly as possible to make this happen for our residents, and we appreciate our residents and their families understanding the balance of not moving “too quickly” for the safety of all and without the appropriate safety precautions and other mandatory requirements in place. 

Signature strongly upholds the importance of visitation from family, friends and essential and compassionate caregivers. Until decisions have been made for each of Signature’s 21 facilities in Florida, we will continue to keep our residents uplifted and connected using alternate methods of communication for families, including telehealth, social media, and the mailing of cards and letters. We hope, in the very near future, these will be secondary to in-person visits with family and friends. 

We are in this fight together and our goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy as we all get through this unprecedented time of COVID-19. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work as quickly as possible to meet state requirements, so we can once again welcome you back into our center and into the company of your loved one. 

If you have any further questions, please contact the Health Department, or Ann Bowdan Wilder, Media/PR/Communications Manager of Signature HealthCARE, at email abowdanwilder@signaturehealthcarellc.com.