AARP Oklahoma sent the following letter today to Gov. Kevin Stitt regarding the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s recent revision to nursing home visitation rules. AARP Oklahoma requests that the Oklahoma State Department of Health institutes new guidance released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to stringently enforce residents’ rights to visitation. We also encourage the Oklahoma State Department of Health to apply these requirements to all facility types to end confusion among residents and their loved ones on when and how they can visit with each other.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard on those living in long-term care settings. The effects of both the virus and social isolation have been devastating to residents and their loved ones,” said AARP Oklahoma State Director Sean Voskuhl. “Visitation by friends and family has been a hallmark of the accountability system in long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, many facilities have been denying this basic principle for far too long. We must ensure that residents’ rights are intact and call upon our state leaders to make the necessary changes to make that happen.”
As we enter a new phase of this pandemic with the ongoing rollout of vaccines and growing knowledge about public health needs – including the safety, mental health, and social well-being of nursing home residents — it is vital that these vulnerable seniors are able to safely visit with their loved ones. Residents must be able to exercise their rights to visitation, and facilities should be held accountable for ensuring such visits occur. AARP Oklahoma will continue fighting to improve the quality of care in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during this global health crisis and into the future.