Picnic Table Visitation for Long-Term Care Facilities

By Jeanne E. Murphy posted 09-22-2020 08:38


Since COVID-19 hit the state, there have been strict limitations on visitation in long-term care facilities, which has been a strain on residents and their families. The current executive order, Mich Exec Order No 2020-174, is effective through September 30, 2020, and allows only certain visitors into the facilities as detailed in an earlier blog post.

A new order from the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on September 15, 2020, allows visits to facilities by family and friends who are excluded under Mich Exec Order No 2020-174, as long as the visits take place outdoors. Outdoor visits may take place if (1) the facility has no new COVID-19 cases within the prior 14 days (admission of a COVID-19-positive resident is not included in this assessment) and (2) there has been no determination by the local health department that the facility is unsafe for visitation based on local epidemiological conditions.

Some additional requirements for the visits include the following:

  • The outdoor visitation area must allow for six feet of distance between people and must provide protection from weather.
  • An employee/volunteer trained in infection control must be near enough to observe and ensure compliance with patient protections.
  • Visitation must take place by appointment only, and the facility may set reasonable time limits on the visit.
  • Visitors must log arrival and departure times, provide contact information, and state in writing that they will inform the facility if they develop COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days of the visit.
  • There is a maximum of two visitors per visit.
  • Visitors must use a face covering and must follow hand hygiene requirements.
  • Visitors must use designated entrances that allow for COVID-19 screening.
  • Visitors must follow social distancing requirements and abstain from physical contact.

However, as Alison Hirschel noted in her post in the Elder Law Section online discussion group, just because these visits are permitted does not mean that facilities are required to allow them. She urges people who want to see their loved ones to contact the facility and urge outdoor visitation.

Note that the order also allows outdoor (and indoor visitation under certain circumstances) by medical and non–medical service providers.