BREAKING: CMS to Issue Formal Alert on How Nursing Homes Should Manage Thanksgiving Visits

BREAKING: CMS to Issue Formal Alert on How Nursing Homes Should Manage Thanksgiving Visits

BREAKING: CMS to issue formal alert on how nursing homes should manage Thanksgiving visits

Danielle Brown – McKnight’s Long-Term Care News

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services confirmed that it will be issuing an alert for providers on how they should manage residents and workers who may want to visit loved ones during the Thanksgiving holiday. 

“As we all know, cases are rising throughout the country so we need to be extra careful about what we do around the holidays, particularly because one of the sources of transmission is family gatherings,” said Evan Shulman, director of CMS’ Division of Nursing Homes. 

Shulman detailed several key messages that will be included on the alert during a call with providers late Wednesday afternoon. One point of note is that CMS will not be changing its COVID-19 visitation guidance for nursing homes specifically for the holidays. 

“We think our visitation guidance is sound and allows for the appropriate way to conduct visitation when there are or aren’t cases, but [during] the holidays, as you all know, the virus does not take off for the holidays. We need to be just as vigilant,” Shulman said. 

The alert will recommend that providers provide information to residents and their families about the risks they face if they do leave the facility during the public health crisis. If a resident does decide to leave in spite of the risks, the alert will suggest that providers give them educational materials on how they and their families can mitigate and reduce the risk of COVID transmission. 

Upon a resident’s return, Shulman said CMS thinks it is reasonable for facilities to consider placing them on transmission-based precautions. He also stressed that CMS’ recommendations will also apply to nursing home staff members. 

“Every single precaution that all residents must take, all of us need to take because we are working with the residents in the same place [as them]. If residents take these precautions but staff don’t adhere to these guidelines, they will transmit the virus when they go back to the facility. We all need to pitch in here,” Shulman said. 

“This year’s going to be different around holidays, unfortunately, but it needs to be different because of the position we’re in. That said, with the vaccine on the horizon, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully in a few months, even shorter perhaps, we’ll all be celebrating all of the holidays together,” he concluded. 

It was not clear when the alert would be issued by CMS. Earlier this month, Shulman hinted that the agency was considering providing additional guidance to providers regarding the holidays.




Laura Hofmann, MSN, RN – Director of Clinical and Nursing Facility Regulatory Services
c: 425-231-4804


November 18, 2020