The Senate has given final approval to House Bill 2687, also known as the No Patient Left Alone Act, which would provide protections for hospital patients and their families during declared health emergencies.
Authored by Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, and Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, R-Elgin, the measure allows for any minor or adult patient to designate a visitor that would have unrestricted visitation to patient care regardless of emergency declarations by the governor or the Legislature.
“It’s difficult enough when someone must endure treatment in a hospital, but to do so without a family member or friend to keep you company is even worse – and that is what we’ve seen during the COVID-19 outbreak,” Bergstrom said. “Children, the elderly, and people with life-threatening illnesses – some who even died – found themselves without a loved one by their sides. That should never be the case if someone is available. The No Patient Left Alone Act simply ensures that no one should have to suffer in a hospital alone.”
The bill would allow each hospital to implement policies to restrict visitation rights under certain circumstances, like if the presence of a visitor would be medically or therapeutically contraindicated; if a visitor interferes with the care or rights of a patient; if the visitor is engaged in disruptive, threatening or violent behavior toward a staff member, patient or other visitor; or if a visitor is noncompliant with hospital policy.
The measure would not allow for visitors to enter operating rooms, isolation units, behavioral health settings or other typically restricted areas. The hospital may also require visitors to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) or comply with reasonable safety protocols.
“We know that isolation can cause devastating effects on a patient’s physical and mental health, but unfortunately, many hospitalized patients have not been allowed to have even a single visitor during the last year,” Hasenbeck said. “I’m very glad that House Bill 2687 has been approved by the Senate and hope to see it signed into law, so that patients can have a designated visitor while in care.”
The measure now heads back to the House of Representatives for final approval before making its way to the governor’s desk for his signature.