Oklahoma’s skilled nursing and long-term care facilities are expected to suspend indefinitely all medically unnecessary visits as the state works to contain the COVID-19 virus.

Local nursing facilities are already enforcing no visitation guidelines from the Oklahoma State Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Workers only are being admitted to Sunset Estates, 915 N. 7th Ave.

No one at the facility is showing signs of coronavirus and the administration wants to make sure that doesn’t change.

Admission to Westbrook Gardens Senior Living Community, 1215 Westbrook Blvd., is restricted to medical personnel only.

Visiting hours are only permitted for extreme cases such as end of life. Those hours are 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.

At Purcell Care Center, 801 N. 8th, residents and family members are coping well with the no visitation rule, said Linda Carter, administrator.

Although she doesn’t know when the ban will be lifted, Carter expects it will last “at least two or three weeks.”

Lexington Nursing Home reports only staff is being admitted there.

Administrator Rick Horton has no idea how long the restriction will remain in effect.

A similar situation exists at Broadway Living Center in Lexington.

“We take the threat of COVID-19 especially seriously as our population of elderly Oklahomans is particularly vulnerable to this disease,” said Steve Buck, president and chief executive officer of Care Providers Oklahoma, the trade association representing the state’s skilled nursing facilities.

Buck pointed out the greatest threats to the health and wellbeing of care facility residents are posed by visitors.

“We do not take the decision to suspend visitation lightly,” he continued. “We do so only because it gives us the best chance to save lives and protect those who are in our care.

“We know we are asking spouses, children, grandchildren and others to forgo visiting their loved ones,” Buck said. “It’s a difficult thing to ask and an even more difficult thing to do. We are enormously grateful for the understanding and patience we have already been shown as we fight this virus and work to keep it out of our facilities.”

The restrictions are also in line with new guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

That guidance directed nursing homes to “significantly restrict visitors and nonessential personnel, as well as restrict communal activities.”

Medically necessary visits include appointments with doctors or other medical practitioners, including hospice service providers.

Families wishing to visit loved ones are asked to communicate through letters, phone or teleconference technology like Face Time.

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