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Alice Center’s Skilled Nursing Facility resumes visitation

Theresa Knapp, 86, was the first Alice Center resident to receive a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Knapp received the vaccine December 21 at the Alice Center, at a clinic administered by Walgreens. (Provided photo — Alice Hyde hospital)

MALONE — Visitation at the Alice Center’s Skilled Nursing Facility has resumed, following updated guidelines from the state’s Department of Health.

According to a press release from Phillip Rau, a spokesperson for the Malone hospital, visitation at the Skilled Nursing Facility had previously been suspended on March 18 after an employee at the facility tested positive for COVID-19.

The resumption of visits at the Skilled Nursing Facility in February followed a months-long suspension of visitation, due to positive tests for the virus in November 2020.

According to Susan Biondolillo, the medical center’s vice president of long-term care, the Skilled Nursing Facility will continue to require visitors to wear masks, and practice social distancing, with all visitors undergoing screening, including having their temperatures taken before entering the facility.

Visitors must also sign in and provide their name, address, and phone number, for contact tracing purposes, according to the press release.

“We’re excited to welcome more members of our community back to the Alice Center, and will continue to work with residents and families to ensure all visitation options, including telephone and video visits, remain available during this new phase of visitation,” Biondolillo said, in the press release.

According to Rau’s press release, while a COVID-19 test is not required to visit the Skilled Nursing Facility, Alice Hyde is strongly recommending that all visitors receive testing prior to visiting, adding state-sponsored testing is available at Alice Hyde’s COVID-19 test site at 130 Park Street, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., each day.

The Alice Center’s Assisted Living Program resumed limited, in-person visitation on Feb. 22, after visitation was suspended in November 2020.

The two long-term care programs are located within the same building, according to Rau’s press release, which states they do not share common areas or staff, and are treated as separate facilities for the purposes of visitation during the ongoing pandemic.

In addition to resumed visitation, Rau’s press release states, visitation guidelines are changing to permit more visitors at one time and to allow for physical contact between residents and their loved ones, following updated guidelines from the state’s Department of Health.

A full list of updated state guidelines for visitation is available on Alice Hyde’s website.

There are currently two residents at the Skilled Nursing Facility who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Biondolillo, who said in the press release, both had already been fully vaccinated, are asymptomatic and being cared for within a unit that is specifically designated to house COVID-positive residents.

Under the state’s updated guidance on visitation in nursing homes, facilities are still required to temporarily suspend visitation in the event of a positive COVID-19 test result, but the new guidelines from the Department of Health allow visitation to resume if no additional COVID cases in other areas are found through a round of employee and resident testing, performed after the initial positive test result.

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