131D-7.1. Secretary to establish visitation protocols during declared disasters and emergencies.

(a) As used in this section and in G.S. 131D-7.2, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) Disaster declaration. - As defined in G.S. 166A-19.3(3).

(2) Emergency. - As defined in G.S. 166A-19.3(6).

(3) Facility. - An adult care home, including a family care home, licensed under this Article.

(4) Normal visitation policy. - The visitation policy that was in effect at a facility on January 1, 2020.

(b) The Secretary shall, in consultation with licensed operators of adult care homes, including family care homes, and any other stakeholders the Secretary deems relevant, establish visitation protocols for residents of these facilities that will become effective during a disaster declaration or emergency that results in the suspension or curtailment of a facility's normal visitation policy for any reason. The visitation protocols shall provide for at least the following:

(1) Each resident shall have the right to designate one preapproved visitor and one preapproved alternate visitor. The preapproved visitor, or if the preapproved visitor is unavailable, the preapproved alternate visitor, shall be allowed to visit the resident at least twice per month during any period of time during which the facility's normal visitation policy is suspended or curtailed for any reason during the declared disaster or emergency.

(2) Prior to admission, each facility shall explain and provide to each resident written notification of the visitation protocols established by the Secretary under this section.

(3) Visitation under these protocols shall be subject to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services directives and to the guidelines, conditions, and limitations established by the facility as part of its normal visitation policy. (2021-145, s. 3(a).)