Magnolia Tribune brings you a Bill of the Day from the Mississippi Legislature that just may pique your interest.
After the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, one Mississippi lawmaker is working to ensure no one ever dies alone in a hospital or similar facility.
The “No Patient Left Alone Act” would ensure that all minor and adult patients would have the right to a designated visitor with visitation rights at all points during care in a hospital.
While the bill has been filed, State Senator Angela Hill, the principal author, says it needs some additional work, and currently is serving as a vehicle to make adjustments.
“The bill was supposed to address patients being isolated from their families during Covid where nursing homes and hospitals banned visitors even when the patient was dying so this scenario never plays out again,” Hill said. “But the current language in the bill does not adequately accomplish this purpose and would need more work before being adopted. It’s more a vehicle to accomplish a goal.”
The intent behind the bill comes as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and many who died without loved ones around due to the nature of the virus and the strict visitation policies at hospitals. Senator Hill said many of her relatives who work in healthcare would use their personal phones to FaceTime patients’ families who were dying alone in the hospital.
“This policy of no visitors during the pandemic was continued in some places even after plenty of PPP was available, and we knew that vaccinated healthcare workers could still transmit the virus which is why we still had outbreaks in nursing homes when families were banned,” said Hill. “I’ve had so many complaints about this. It was inhumane in my opinion.”
As the current language reads, hospitals would potentially have to amend their visitation policies to ensure no one is left alone. However, hospitals would still have the authority to restrict visitation under a few conditions. Hospitals could restrict visitors when their presence could be medically or therapeutically disruptive, they interfere with the rights of any patient, or are engaging in disruptive, threatening or violent behavior toward anyone or are not compliant with hospital policies.
This act would not require hospitals to allow visitors into an operating room, isolation room, isolation unit, behavioral health setting, or other typically restricted area.
“The rights specified in this section may not be terminated, suspended or waived by the hospital, the State Department of Health or any governmental entity, notwithstanding declarations of emergency declared by the Governor,” the bill states. “No hospital shall require a patient to waive the rights specified in this section.”
Senator Hill’s bill would also prevent the State Department of Health or any other agency from taking action against the hospital if they changed their visitor policies to make sure no patient is alone while receiving care.