August 5, 2021

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Senior centers prepare to reopen their doors

The establishment of an appointment system, as well as the mandatory use of face masks and answering a questionnaire that includes recent medical and travel history are part of the guidelines proposed by the Association of Owners of Long-Term Care Centers for the resumption of visits by family and friends after they were prohibited on March 16 as a security measure to avoid contagion by COVID-19 .

The Association presented today to Department de la Familia the protocol that will allow them to prepare for the resumption of visits when so announced by the agency that supervises them. "In this complex time, caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, physical and social distancing as an effective response to prevent contagion, our residents have spent, in the least of cases, 99 days without receiving visits from their families and friends. Although these family members have understood and collaborated in this entire process, the need of our residents to continue the family bond that promotes and serves as a source of well-being for them is no less true, ”said Juanita Aponte Morales, president of the organization.

The document was delivered just the day the Governor Wanda Vázquez announced the extension of the curfew until July 22, as well as the parameters for the restart of work in the service public and in the public and private education system.

“Even the cancellation of visits by the Department of the Family is in force, but, given the increasingly widening flexibility, announced by the Governor of Puerto Rico, it is important that let's prepare for this restart of family visits, ”said Aponte Morales when requesting the Department of the Family, as well as the Administration of Mental Health and Against Addiction (Assmca) to welcome r the approaches outlined in the document.

In a communication sent to El Nuevo Día, the administrators will also require visitors, who will be limited to primary family members in the first phase, to take the temperature and wash their hands before Entering the facility and physical distance will have to be six feet away at all times.

The entry of minors and people with a 14-day travel history prior to the visit and who have been in a medical institution or attending to a family member diagnosed with COVID-19. Nor can they deliver packages or food directly to the resident, but must be coordinated with the staff in charge of their loved one to carry out a disinfection process.

In addition to the appointment system, the center will have to designate specific areas where the meetings will take place and define the duration time, although it is recommended not to exceed 15 minutes. Likewise, they are suggesting that the days of visits be alternated between participants without mobility problems versus bedridden or hospice participants. "This ensures that the task force will focus on executing the protocol rigorously and without distraction," reads the document.

For bedridden patients, family members would not be allowed to enter the room with any lumps. or wallet and will be required to use gloves and disposable, non-reusable masks. “It is our responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of residents. Therefore, this structure of visits will always be subject to the percentage of contagions in the country, prevention notices and situation alerts, reported by the health and safety authorities of the government of Puerto Rico, ”establishes the 12-page document approved by the Board of Directors.

In a second phase -which is recommended to have a duration of 40 calendar days- the visit of a secondary consanguineous degree would be allowed. Meanwhile, the third stage would allow visits of a religious nature, although only for an individual interview with that resident who so requests.

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