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.”
This or another similar bill needs to pass in every state, including verbiage which says no Federal Government emergency can deny one “visitor” from being allowed with the patient. As a former caregiver for my mother-in-law who had dementia, it’s imperative for some patients to have a caregiver with them to give accurate information that the patient may not be able to provide. Mrs. Gregson could talk a good game but she wasn’t “fine, taking care of her home and yard all by herself” anymore. Additionally, my mother who was a quadriplegic would “buck-up” in hospital but was deathly afraid of being dropped by people who didn’t know how to do transfers or turning her so having someone who could guide clueless staff helped calm her immensely. Patients MUST have a caregiver to help monitor medications given from hospital pharmacies, tests being done, treatments being given, reactions to treatments, keeping logs of such, and discussions with doctors who waltz in at odd hours, etc. Patients often aren’t coherent during hospital stays and need to have someone being their second set of eyes, ears, brain to help bring about a good chance to return home.
I agree 100% with Deborah Gregson. There are very few people who can handle being alone in emergency situations. I hope it passes and our governor does not veto this.
This is an important bill. It’s of great concern that Cone health is opposing. Having an advocate is mandatory in my experience at Cone and I wouldn’t go there without one. The mental health of elderly has been damaged by these unnecessary actions of facilities. Let the patient and family decide is the America I knew.
I have written Joyce Krawiec and asked they include pastoral visits. I was recently denied access to a man about to die over at the “Covid hospital” and the man died without the consolation of receiving the blessing given to those about to die. His wife is still grieving over that.
It was in violation of rules established to respond to this by the Department of Health and Human Services, March of 2020:
In a case in Maryland in late July, HHS OCR applied this guidance in working with the University of Maryland Medical System to change its policies, after UMMS denied a patient’s right to “freely exercise his religion by permitting him to receive a visit from a priest … to receive the Catholic religious sacraments of Holy Communion and Anointing of the Sick.” Based upon technical assistance from HHS OCR, “UMMS updated its visitation policy … so that patients in COVID-19 positive units or sections will be able to practice their religion with clergy visitations in compassionate care situations including end-of-life.”