State Says Visitation May Resume At Hospitals, Group Homes

Courtesy Governor Andrew Cuomo
Governor Andrew Cuomo held a press briefing on June 16.

Hospital patients and group home residents will soon be able to have visitors once again, after nearly three months of prohibiting most visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that hospitals and group homes will be allowed to accept visitors at their discretion. Nursing homes are still prohibited from having visitors until further review by the state Department of Health, after the coronavirus spread quickly through those facilities. 

Any hospital facility that chooses to allow visitors must follow state guidelines. Parameters include time-limited visits and requiring visitors to wear personal protective equipment, as well as being subject to symptom and temperature checks.

Stony Brook Southampton Hospital will follow the state’s guidelines, as well as ones put together by Stony Brook Medicine, but no date for visitation to start has been made public yet. Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, a Northwell facility, has also not announced a date visitation may begin.

“This was always a balance of public health versus the personal relationships and people who are in hospitals who desperately want to see loved ones and loved ones who want to see people in hospitals,” Cuomo said.

Starting Friday, group homes certified by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, will be allowed to accept visitors, also at the home’s discretion. The group homes — of which there are several across the East End — will have to adhere to state guidance and certify compliance with the state office before allowing visitation.

“That’s a big step forward,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said during his daily briefing on Tuesday. He said not allowing hospital and nursing home patients to see loved ones caused an additional “emotional trauma” throughout COVID-19, though he said he understood why the state health commissioner is being extra cautious when it comes to nursing homes.

The governor also announced Tuesday that the U.S. Open will be held in Queens at the end of the summer — just without fans in the stand. The tennis tournament will be held from August 31 to September 13 because of the state-approved plans in place. Precautions will be in place to protect players and staff, including testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space and dedicated housing and transportation. 

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