April 7, 2022

DeSantis Signs Bill Ensuring Visitation Rights for Patients and Families

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By Tyler Rea

April 7, 2022 Updated 12:51 P.M. ET

TALLAHASSEE (FCV) – Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the No Patient Left Alone Act which will effectively guarantee Florida families the right to visit their loved ones receiving care in hospitals, hospices, and long-term care facilities. These facilities will not be allowed to require a vaccine as a prerequisite of visitation. 

During the pandemic, visitation rights of families were stripped away, leaving patients to pass away and suffer without anyone by their side other than the medical staff treating them. 

DeSantis said, “Here in Florida, we recognize that family and human connection is one of the most important aspects of physical, mental, and emotional well-being and we are ensuring Floridians are never again denied the right to see their relatives and friends while in hospitals or nursing homes.”

First Lady Casey DeSantis said, “Patients shouldn’t be denied the right to see their loved ones, especially during life’s difficult moments. Thank you to Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for prioritizing this important issue. Hopefully, this law will bring much peace, comfort, and clarity to Floridians.”

The Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reinstated federal visitation protections for long-term care facilities, but CMS continues to not allow visitors for patients in hospitals. No Patient Left Alone Act now guarantees this right in the state of Florida.

“Understanding firsthand the emotional toll of caring for my father during the pandemic, this bill is a necessity not only for patients, but also family members that desperately want to play an active and in-person role in their loved ones’ care,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez.

No Patient Left Alone Act ensures that health care facilities must allow in person visitation for all of the following circumstances: 

  • End-of-life situations.
  • A resident, client, or patient who was living with family before being admitted to the provider’s care is struggling with the change in environment and lack of in-person family support.
  • A resident, client, or patient is making one or more major medical decisions.
  • A resident, client, or patient is experiencing emotional distress or grieving the loss of a friend or family member who recently died.
  • A resident, client, or patient needs cueing or encouragement to eat or drink which was previously provided by a family member or caregiver.
  • A resident, client, or patient who used to talk and interact with others is seldom speaking.
  • For hospitals, childbirth, including labor and delivery.
  • Pediatric patients.

“COVID showed us that while a virus can be deadly, depression and loneliness can be just as deadly,” said Representative Jason Shoaf.

“We all have heard and experienced the heart wrenching stories of those in facilities cut off from their loved ones. This law will be a large step toward preventing this problem.”

By May 6th, all Florida hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled must adopt and publicly post their visitation policy on the home page of their website.

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