Statement Regarding COVID-19
and Long-Term Care Visitation Guidance
West Des Moines, Iowa – IHCA
The Iowa Health Care Association represents most of the state’s more than
790 long-term care providers, including nursing homes, assisted living communities and home health
care agencies, and has been working closely with its members and state health officials to monitor novel
coronavirus (COVID-19) developments in Iowa.
“Our top priority is to protect the health and well-being of Iowa’s elderly and most vulnerable residents.
What we know about COVID-19 is that it presents the highest risk of serious illness and death to the
elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions,” said Brent Willett, president and CEO of the
Iowa Health Care Association. “As health care professionals who care for this vulnerable population,
infection prevention and control are core to what long-term care providers do every day all year, and
they have a number of tools they use to prevent and control infection on a daily basis. In situations
where there is heightened risk, one of those tools is to implement visitation protocols and procedures to
protect those in their care and to utilize health screening protocols for anyone entering their facilities.
They prepare daily for situations like this and stand ready.”
Recent guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires all skilled nursing
facilities in the country to substantially limit non-essential visitors to their facilities. “The Iowa Health
Care Association further encourages all skilled nursing facilities and assisted living communities to
implement additional visitor limitation protocols recommended by the American Health Care
Association and National Center for Assisted Living to protect the lives and safety of skilled nursing and
assisted living residents,” said Willett. “In light of these guidelines, Iowa care providers are encouraged
to help facilitate alternative means of communication to the extent possible under these conditions.”
Family members and the public can help by limiting in-person visits to a long-term care facility. The
biggest risk with COVID-19 is that people in the community can carry the infection, not show any
symptoms, visit a loved one in a care facility, and unknowingly expose them. If you have a loved one in a
care facility, consider alternative ways to stay in touch with family members – such as phone, Skype,
FaceTime and Snap Chat. If an in-person visit is absolutely necessary, call the facility first to coordinate
your visit. Please comply with any health screening requests you receive from the facility before visiting.
You may be asked about your exposure to the virus and to wash your hands before visiting. Your
assistance in following these protocols will help to ensure the safety and health of Iowa’s elderly and
most vulnerable residents.