As COVID-19 cases surge again, bill passed by NC House aims to protect visitation rights

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As the number of COVID-19 cases at nursing homes continues to climb, a new bill is being proposed that would protect visitation rights for patients. It’s called the No Patient Left Alone Act. It passed the North Carolina House of Representatives Tuesday with bipartisan support.

Jeff Neisen is in Raleigh visiting his mother, Ann, at Capital Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

“She’s here because she’s in her last days of life here, and you know they’re making, they’re keeping her comfortable,” he said.

Neisen said those at the facility are doing everything they can to keep residents safe. That includes giving rapid COVID-19 tests to every visitor.

Despite that, if the home did have an outbreak, defined as two or more COVID-19 cases, it would be put on lockdown, meaning no visitors would be allowed in.

“That would be horrible. I mean, you know you can’t keep families separated. You can’t keep people separated from their loved ones. That’s just not right,” he said.

A bill making its way through the legislature would provide more protection. It would ensure visitation rights for patients in most health care facilities, including nursing homes and hospitals. An exemption would be made for infection control issues. If found in violation, the state could fine a facility $500.

“One of the few issues around here that can make my blood boil when I hear many stories from family members,” Sen. Warren Daniel, (R-Burke) said.

Daniel is one of the sponsors of the bill.

The Department of Health and Human Services expressed concerns. It said it would limit the authority of the governor and local health departments.

“I don’t want my mother passing all by herself. It’s kind of a balancing act for sure,” Neisen said.

The bill went back into committee after passing the House. It appears state lawmakers are trying to do more to address the concerns of DHHS.

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