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Ventura County Eases Coronavirus Related Restrictions On Long Term Care Facilities


The coronavirus crisis has been hard on everyone, but some of the hardest hit people have been those in long term care and nursing facilities. 

There have been huge outbreaks at those facilities around the country. 

Ventura County has avoided those large scale issues, through a unique program to get those who might have coronavirus out of the facilities before they can infect others. 

Now, the county is making it easier for residents to visit family members and loved ones they haven't seen for months.

Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin says the county has 400 long term care facilities and 19 skilled nursing facilities. 

County officials say thanks to their aggressive approach, they’ve had coronavirus cases in only about 10 to 15 facilities.  In many instances, the effort has kept the number of residents who developed coronavirus to one or two people.

People who have been diagnosed, or who've come in contact with someone testing positive, are immediately removed from the facility and shifted to isolation units at hospitals in the county.  

Dr. Levin says what makes the effort remarkable is the extraordinary cooperation that made it happen. 

The care and skilled nursing facilities willingly let paying residents leave to be temporarily housed in hospitals.  And eight hospitals took the people not knowing if they would ever be reimbursed for the care they are providing.

Now, the Ventura County Health official says the situation has improved enough that after two months of being unable to see loved ones, the residents can - under limited conditions - see family members and friends.

People can’t go inside, but their family member or friend can come to the door of the facility as long as they remain at least six feet away from each other. 

There’s no hugging, and everyone has to wear masks.

The resident can also come outdoors to visit, as long as they practice social distancing.  Another option is when family members or friends drive up in a car, and the resident comes outside - again, still practicing social distancing.

For residents who are bedridden, Dr. Levin says there are electronic ways of connecting like Zoom and Skype.

Visitors also can’t bring food, gifts, or outside items, though they can be left at the facility where a staff member can sanitize them. One of the other key steps is that asking visitors to pre-screen themselves for coronavirus.  If they have symptoms, or a temperature over 100 degrees, officials say they need to postpone their visit.