ALABAMA (WDHN) — A bill that would designate an essential caregiver to patients and allow more lenient visiting rules in healthcare facilities is making its way through the Alabama Legislature.
Senate Bill 113, sponsored by Senator Garlan Gudger, would make new patient visiting standards for hospitals and care facilities and repeal current visitation policies.
It would allow a resident, client, or patient to designate an essential caregiver and requires the facility to allow those caregivers at least two hours of daily visitation and give the residents or patients the right to visit with any other individual in the facility during set visiting hours.
An essential caregiver could be a family member, friend, guardian, or other person and each caregiver chosen may be designated a specific day to visit.
This bill would also prohibit a facility from requiring visitors to submit proof of vaccination or from stopping physical contact between a visitor and a patient.
Healthcare facilities would be required to allow visitation under special circumstances:
- End-of-life scenarios
- Childbirth, labor, or delivery
- Pediatric care
- Patients making major medical decisions
- Patients experiencing emotional distress or grief
- Patients struggling to eat, drink, or speak
While the bill makes the policies more lenient, it also allowed facilities to suspend in-person visitation of a specific visitor if they violate policy and procedure. It also exempts healthcare facilities designated for psychiatric care from visitation requirements.
The bill requires each healthcare facility to provide its new visitation policies and procedures to the Department of Public Health when applying for licensure, renewal, or change of ownership and would require the Department of Public Health to dedicate a page on its website to explain
According to AL.com, the bill passed in the senate with a 33-0 vote and will now move to the house.