Weighing the risks versus benefits of loosening up restrictions in the independent living part of its life plan community, one New Hampshire long-term care provider is launching a new visitation program for vaccinated individuals.
Alice Peck Day Lifecare’s independent living community, The Woodlands, is launching a Verified Vaccinated Visitors (3V) program that allows fully vaccinated visitors to have unrestricted access to the community, although masking and social distancing still are required.
“We see data showing two or more fully vaccinated people socializing is, really, a very low risk, particularly if you are still masked and socially distancing,” Cindy Jerome, executive director of APD Lifecare and administrator of The Woodlands, said Monday during a call with LeadingAge members.
The impetus for the program, she added, was knowing that vaccinated residents were going to go out into the general community to see loved ones. “I would much rather they see their loved ones here, as soon as they are fully vaccinated,” Jerome said.
To gain access to the program, visitors provide the community with their COVID-19 vaccination record card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, verifying that they have had both vaccine doses, with the second dose having been given at least 14 days before card presentation. In return, the visitor receives a laminated 3V card that he or she can flash whenever arriving at the community.
“This new program feels like a truly safe way to take a big step forward,” Jerome said, adding that the community intends to use it in its marketing. “We feel this is a risk worth taking, when we look at the cost versus benefits of continued isolation.”
Verified visitors still will go through screenings each time they visit, but they will be able to socialize anywhere within the community.
Unfortunately, just as The Woodlands was set to roll out the program, the county in which the retirement community is located was flagged for high community spread numbers. Dartmouth College, located in the town next to The Woodlands, is experiencing a major COVID-19 outbreak. The Woodlands, Jerome said, will have to wait for numbers to go down.
The 3V program does not apply to the community’s assisted living and memory care sections, which must comply with rules and regulations from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
All residents, however, have the option of using the designated visitor program. Residents can identify one visitor, who is asked to sign an agreement that he or she will avoid COVID-19-associated risks. In exchange, the person can visit one resident in his or her apartment without having to schedule a visit. The visitor and resident also are asked to remain masked and socially distant.