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Essential Visitor Guidance for Nursing Homes

Since mid-March 2020, visitor restrictions have been in place in Wisconsin nursing homes and nationwide in order to help mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Recognizing the critical role family members and other close friends have in the support of residents, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has create a new “Essential Visitors” program. DHS recommends that nursing homes develop a process to designate certain individuals as Essential Visitors, a person who the resident sees regularly and depends on for emotional support. Nursing homes are not required to implement an Essential Visitors program, but the guidance provides recommendations for those facilities that choose to do so. DHS will regularly monitor the effect Essential Visitors are having on the disease activity in nursing homes and will adjust the guidance accordingly.

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