One consequence of the plethora of restrictions invoked as a result of COVID-19 was that people in the hospital and in adult care facilities were not allowed to have any visitors.

“The No Patient Left Alone Act” has been filed in the North Carolina state Senate to put a stop to that practice regardless of the emergency situation.

Republican Senators Warren Daniel, Danny Britt and Joyce Krawiec are the primary sponsors and nine Republican senators have also signed on as sponsors including Sen. Amy Galey who represents the eastern portion of Guilford County.

The bill notes that many patients who were not diagnosed with COVID-19 were prohibited from having any visitors and states, “as a result many patients not diagnosed with COVID-19 have been forced to be alone during their treatment for serious conditions, traumas, illnesses, heart attacks and routine and emergency surgeries.”

The bill also states, “some of these patients have been forced to be alone for the entire course of their treatment and in some cases have died alone.”

The bill also notes that patients who have been forced to be alone “included adults, minors, and individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.”

In light of these concerns the bill states, “The General Assembly finds that it is in the interest of the State and is residents that these patients be allowed at least one immediate family member, designated health care agent, guardian or person standing in loco parentis physically present at reasonable times through the period of hospitalization or residential treatment.”

“The No Patient Left Alone Act” stipulates that all licensed care facilities in the state must allow one visitor under the visitation policies that were in effect at the facility on Jan. 1, 2020.

It also states that if the designated visitor must leave the room due to a medical procedure that “the visitor shall have access to a waiting area.”

The bill also states that the provisions of The No Patient Left Alone Act “may not be terminated, suspended, or waived by the hospital, the Department of Health and Human Services, or the Governor.”

Ryan Blacklege, the Cone Health director of government affairs, sent an email to state legislators noting the recent changes in Cone Health visitation policies and opposing The No Patient Left Alone Act.

Blacklege states, “Legislation such as the ‘No Patient Left Alone Act’ (SB 191) comes from a reasonable position of concern for loved ones seeing each other, but would apply an inappropriate standard (mandating one visitor for every patient) during emergencies, which is precisely when we need additional flexibility to our visitor policies.”