After brief ban, 'window visits' allowed under updated guidance from state board

Published: Apr. 14, 2020 at 11:21 AM CDT
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The Wisconsin Board of Aging and Long Term Care has reissued updated guidance Tuesday morning that removed a recommendation

against 'window visits' for nursing homes and assisted living facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a statement sent to NewsChannel 7 from Governor Tony Evers' office, this guidance did not reflect recommendations from the governor or the restrictions of the Safer at Home order, and the board was asked to reissue guidance that would allow for window visits, which the board immediately updated Tuesdsay.

In a letter sent to legislative members Tuesday morning and provided to NewsChannel 7 by the governor's office, the Board said the guidance issued on Monday and removed Tuesday was "an attempt to respond to numerous accounts we have received of individuals visiting long-term care residents outside of the windows, yet having contact such as kissing through a screen, hugging through an open window and not maintaining social distancing." They added that it was also to address concerns for residents with dementia who were confused by visitors they didn't know.

"We did not intend to recommend prohibiting allowed essential activities such as waiving to a resident through a closed window or providing care essential to someone’s health and safety," the Board stated.

Alternatives to face-to-face visits include digital options like FaceTime and Skype, to protect the health of residents and to encourage compliance with social distancing requirements.

According to the board's website, the organization is comprised of seven members "appointed by the Governor and serves as an advocate for consumers of long term care in Wisconsin." The governor's office said the board functioned independently of the governor, and did not have the authority to issue guidance that did not align with the Safer at Home order.

Updated guidance issued April 14 to remove that recommendation was sent to NewsChannel 7. The Board's website has not yet been updated to reflect the guidance, as of late Tuesday morning; the updated memo sent to the legislature is attached to this article.