Virtual Visits to Kūpuna in Hilo Nursing Home to Become Realty
Twenty-three skilled nursing facilities will now be able to connect with their loved ones virtually after more than two months of no face-to-face contact.
Care homes across the state nixed visiting hours to avoid the spread of COVID-19 among Hawai‘i’s most vulnerable population. As a result, the Hawai‘i Department of Health is disbursing a total of $30,000 to facilities islandwide for communication devices that will help the kūpuna stay in touch with their friends and family during the pandemic.
Legacy Hilo Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, owned by ‘Ohana Pacific Management Company, Inc., is set to receive $900, which will be used to purchase Chromebooks, enabling residents to regularly connect with their families.
With approximately 100 residents, a spokesperson for OPMC, said residents daily visits from family, friends as well as community groups prior to the coronavirus crisis.
“Currently, CMS only allows essential visits i.e. physician services or end of life visits,” Takitani said.
With restrictions on face-to-face, in-person visits still in place, Keith Ridley, chief of the Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance (OHCA), said the grants will provide the tools skilled nursing facilities need to provide emotional support for their residents.
Ridley said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) gave states authority to approve applications from skilled nursing facilities for COVID-19 communication technologies to expedite the approval process. The funds are provided as grants from the CMS Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP) Reinvestment Program, are limited to $3,000 for each facility, and are earmarked for communication technologies such as tablets or other devices and accessories.
OHCA is limited to disbursements of $30,000 per fiscal year, according to state statute. The skilled nursing facilities will receive their grants by June 30, 2020, at the end of the fiscal year. Additional grants will be awarded after the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, 2020, and, pending CMS approval, grants may be used for other services to improve the quality of life for the residents.