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Arizona preparing to allow family visits to assisted care facilities

Posted at 5:07 PM, Aug 26, 2020

PHOENIX — For nearly six months, residents of assisted living facilities have not been able to visit with family or spend time with their neighbors due to COVID-19.

"He has dementia, he doesn't really remember my name," Diane Drazinski says of her dad. It's been weeks since Diane has been with her father who is now in memory care. She is allowed to see her mother, who is a resident of an assisted living facility.

Drazinski and the other members of Governor Ducey's Task Force on Long Term Care presented the Department of Health Services recommendations Tuesday on steps care providers and families need to do to allow for reunions to take place.

A spokesperson for AZDHS expects the guidelines will be made available on Friday. "This is absolutely a step in the right direction," Dana Kennedy the state director for AARP. said. Kennedy is also a member of the task force.

Loved ones will have to take a COVID-19 test, isolate and provide the results within 48 hours. "They're going to need to contact the facility. Let them know they want to see their loved one," Kennedy said. "Then they're going to have to go to a place and get a test."

Kennedy believes visits could start happening by next week. "Loved ones have not been able to see their loved ones going on 25 weeks, almost six months," Kennedy said. "The long-term task force formed less than a month ago. We moved with expediency. So I expect the facilities to move with expediency to come up with a plan."

Unfortunately, the hugs and kisses of reunions will have to wait. Any interactions will be subject to the social distancing and masking requirements. Every visit will require a new COVID-19 test.

Kennedy expects there will be a need to fine tune the plan once the facilities begin reopening for family visits.