Long term care facilities to remain closed for visitors

Published: May. 29, 2020 at 6:57 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Tom Bechen, chair-person of the Dubuque County Board of Health, said someone reached out to the board recently saying they saw staff at a long-term care facility without personal protective equipment.

“Their question was, 'what the board of health could do about that?” he said.

After first contacting the Dubuque County Public Health Department for help, Bechen said they heard from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals that that department had oversight of the long-term care facilities, which means the Board of Health has no authority over them.

“We could recommend, we cannot mandate,” he said. “We would like to do more, but we are limited with what we’re able to do."

One of those places they would like to help out is Luther Manor. Janet Warren, executive director of the nursing home, said they are doing pretty well on their own, though, but that, as the state reopens, loved ones’ patience is starting to wear thin.

“They are getting frustrated and hoping and looking for the day when we can reopen,” she said. Warren said they are glad of having made the decision themselves of closing down the building to visitors. “The first thing we did was we restricted our building to visitors and we thought that was going to be just short-term," she said.

However, it was not short-term, so she wants people to know that they have started talking about a slow reopening.

“We are participating in a lot of training and we are planning, so that when we do get to the point where we are allowed to reopen that we will be able to do it safely,” she said.

Warren added that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said that, once a state declares that it can start reopening, the nursing homes would be trailing behind that. “We are in Phase 1, which is we are still restricted,” she said. “As it starts opening up more and more we will trail behind that and we will be moving towards that, so we are having discussions, we are trying to visualize what that is going to be and considering everything we need to do.”

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