Thursday, March 12, 2020 11:52 AMThe Iowa Health Care Association is encouraging all skilled nursing facilities in the state to follow recent guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requiring them to substantially limit nonessential visitors to their facilities during the coronavirus pandemic. “Our top priority is to protect the health and well-being of Iowa’s elderly and most vulnerable residents,” said Brent Willett, president and CEO of the IHCA, which represents most of the state’s nearly 800 long-term-care providers. “What we know about COVID-19 is that it presents the highest risk of serious illness and death to the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions,” he said in a news release. The association is further encouraging all skilled nursing facilities and assisted living communities to implement additional visitor limitation protocols recommended by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living to protect the lives and safety of skilled nursing and assisted living residents. Additionally, the facilities are encouraged to establish alternate means of communication between residents and families, to the extent possible under these conditions, Willett said.