State Outlines Plans To Reopen Nursing Homes

Tuesday, June 9th 2020, 6:32 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

The state is considering a plan to reopen nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Oklahoma as early as Monday.Some nursing care facilities say that’s too soon.

News 9 obtained a copy of a draft proposal for reopening nursing facilities.

The proposal outlines requirements nursing facilities would have to follow to allow visitors; group dining and activities for residents. Included: Facilities can’t have any new COVID-19 cases for 28 days. They must have an infection prevention specialist on staff, they have to have personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, and all visitors must be screened for COVID-19.

Nursing and long-term care providers said they’re concerned with a one-size fits all approach to reopening, and they feel pressured to open sooner than they’re comfortable.

“I think it’s important that we do have a reopening plan for Oklahoma. All long-term care facilities think it’s important. It’s the next step. But to rush into this thing, that’s the real concern because we still have a lot of COVID-19 activity across the state of Oklahoma,” said Don Blose with Oklahoma Leading Age.

The language in the proposal is very specific suggesting that most visitations should be done outside, and visitors should wear cloth masks. Nursing care directors said they only received the proposal a few days ago and haven’t had time to really digest it.

“This is our most vulnerable population. 80% of the deaths in Oklahoma have occurred for people 65 and older. And over half of them have been in nursing facilities,” Blose said. “To us the life is the most important thing right now. And that’s what we’re trying to do is ensure the safety and protection of our elder individuals that are in these facilities.”

The governor’s office said the proposal allows facilities to reopen but gives them a lot of leeway about how they’ll do that.

“Of all areas to reopen in the state this is by far the most serious and critical that we get right,” Blose said. “It’s nothing that needs to be rushed. There are thousands of lives at stake.”

The governor’s office hopes to release more details on the reopening of nursing facilities and federal money to help them do that later this week.