News about Updated COVID-19 Policies at Bethesda Communities

Bethesda Health | May 17, 2021

New Mask Allowances in Independent Living

Per the May 14, 2021, guidance issued the St. Louis County Department of Health, fully vaccinated residents, staff and visitors may live, work and visit all six Bethesda Independent Living Communities without the need to wear a mask if they so desire.

Masks must be worn, however, by anyone who has yet to receive their COVID-19 vaccination and completed the two-week incubation period following the final vaccine.

As a result of that same St. Louis County Department of Health guidance, masks continue to be required inside all assisted living and skilled nursing communities, even by those who are fully vaccinated.

Bethesda continues to offer the COVID-19 vaccine for residents and staff at clinics held at each community. These clinics take place every 2-4 weeks. Check with the community’s General Manager, Administrator or Executive Director for more details.

Skilled Nursing Facilities (Nursing Homes) and Assisted Living Communities

Per guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on April 27, 2021, Bethesda’s skilled nursing and assisted living facilities will continue allowing indoor visitation, provided certain criteria are in place.

As we have shared before, outdoor visitation remains the preferred visitation venue, so hopefully you are able to enjoy a visit along with the delightful spring weather.

For those preferring or requiring indoor visitation, it would be best to contact the Administration at the skilled nursing or assisted living community, to assure that the visitation request can be honored and to understand the criteria better.

Bethesda will allow indoor visitation for residents regardless of vaccination status, except for a few circumstances when visitation should be limited due to a high risk of COVID-19 transmission (end-of-life and compassionate care visits should be permitted at all times).

These scenarios include limiting indoor visitation for unvaccinated residents if the county positivity rate is more than 10% and fewer than 70% of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated.

To access the CMS memo that outlines the criteria, click here.


With the availability of FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has launched an informational website. To access the Missouri website, click here.


The restrictive policies enforced by Bethesda for outdoor visitation has not changed. Outdoor visits remain limited to residents who are COVID-19 negative or asymptomatic. These visits are to be coordinated through the facility’s Activities/Life Enrichment team.

Individuals wanting to conduct a visit (indoor, outdoor or compassionate care) visit must be willing to submit to a temperature screening and able to answer “NO” to questions related to signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

Virtual visits (Skype, Zoom, etc.) with residents and patients continue to be coordinated by the Life Enrichment/Activities Directors at each skilled nursing or assisted living community.


Independent Living/Retirement Communities

Per new guidance from the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, visitation in our Independent Living/Retirement communities is being permitted. Criteria enforced by the community must be adhered to, and the visits remain limited to residents who are COVID-19 negative or asymptomatic. Masks must be worn, and a distance of at least six feet is kept between resident and visitor, for those who are not fully vaccinated. Please contact the Administration at the community to understand the criteria further.

In addition, per guidance dated May 3, 2021, from the St. Louis County Department of Health, the dining rooms in our Independent Living/Retirement communities can now accommodate full occupancy where space is available to accommodate six feet between tables. Tables already had been positioned to accommodate social distancing. Reservations still must be made in advance.  Residents will continue to be given the option of picking up their meals or having them delivered if they prefer.

The following restrictions also are in place:

We appreciate your understanding and compliance with these restrictions regarding visitation and entering these resident communities. If you have any further questions, please call the management of the resident community for which you seek information.


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