MN health, elder care operations curb visitors in COVID-19 response

Wheelchairs sit in a hallway at a care facility
Wheelchairs sit in a hallway at a long-term care facility. a growing number of health care, nursing home and assisted living providers are creating new restrictions to hold off the spread of COVID-19.
Steve Mullis | MPR News 2009

A major player in central Minnesota health care said Thursday it will temporarily ban all visitors to its facilities as it tries to protect its clients from the spread of coronavirus.

Visitors will no longer be allowed at CentraCare's hospitals, long-term care facilities, senior and group housing effective immediately. Exceptions will be made for patient family members under special circumstances, such as critically ill or end of life patients and parents of minor children, the company said in a statement.

CentraCare operates eight hospitals including St. Cloud, Monticello, Paynesville and Willmar, as well as 30 clinics and 11 senior housing facilities in central Minnesota.

It’s the latest in a growing number of moves by health care, nursing home and assisted living providers to put new restrictions in place to hold off the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

LeadingAge Minnesota and Care Providers of Minnesota are asking that visitor access to the state's nursing homes and assisted living facilities be restricted to only essential visits. The groups say this follows the latest guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Older adults are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, especially those with underlying health issues, according to the CDC. That’s been highlighted by the number of deaths at a Washington state nursing home.

“The statistics are pretty alarming,” Patti Cullen, CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota, told MPR News on Wednesday. “We’re all hands on deck right now.”

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