ALBANY, NY – As hospitals and group homes begin to let allow visitors again, some in New York State are also hoping the rules can be loosened for nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

NewsChannel 34’s Corina Cappabianca has more on that, and what some advocacy groups say needs to happen in the future.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are still waiting to get the go-ahead for visitations to safely resume.

Advocates say while virtual visits have helped, it’s still not the same as seeing loved ones in person.

((Bill Ferris, AARP New York State Legislative Representative)) If the state of New York is opening up hospitals, and they figured out how to do that safely and they figured out how to open up group homes safely, certainly the administration and the cuomo administration and the department of health can figure out how to do that for nursing homes because at this point it’s very frustrating for AARP to hear from our membership about how they can’t go and visit their loved ones in nursing homes.

Earlier this week the Governor said nursing home visitations were still being studied.

((Andrew Cuomo, Governor)) There’s still a high risk, and when the Health Department advises me that it’s safe, we’ll do it. I understand the demand; I understand the desire, but the Health Department doesn’t think the reward justifies the risk at this point.

Meanwhile the Executive Director of the Empire State Association of Assisted Living is advocating for outdoor visits to be allowed at assisted living and adult care facilities saying:

“… there are ways to conduct the visits safely. Our members are committed to strict compliance with the rules because, in addition to their concern for their residents’ physical health, they care very much about their residents’ mental and emotional well-being. This terrible crisis is starting to take its toll on them, and everyone is looking forward to being reunited with their families.” -ESAAL Executive Director Lisa Newcomb.

Ferris says in the event of another wave more needs to be done to prepare.

Yesterday the Governor signed off on a bill that requires residential healthcare facilities to come up with an annual “pandemic emergency plan” to be sent to the Department of Health.

((Bill Ferris, AARP New York State Legislative Representative)) It’s really preparing the nursing homes for a future pandemic, which is making sure nursing homes have the proper PPE, making sure their visitations are in line virtual or otherwise. But there also needs to be a concerted effort by the cuomo administration to really look at the whole long-term care system and how it will respond to a future pandemic.

The pandemic emergency plan bill overwhelmingly passed the state legislature.