New Florida law bans hospitals, nursing facilities from denying visitors based off COVID vax status

DeSantis signs ‘No Patient Left Alone Act’ bill into law

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill allowing in-person visitors in Florida hospitals, nursing facilities. Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

NAPLES, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a “No Patient Left Alone Act” bill into law Wednesday, establishing in-person hospital and long-term care facility visitation rights throughout the state regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

DeSantis, joined by Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo and Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Simone Marstiller, discussed and signed SB 988 into law at a news conference held at The Glenview at Pelican Bay, a Naples senior living facility.

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“We worked very hard with our hospitals to tell them, ‘Yes, I understand you’re trying to mitigate COVID, and that’s important, but you can’t just shut out all these human interactions for people who are in the hospital and have really difficult circumstances,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis added he found it “fundamentally wrong” to shut visitors out of hospitals when loved ones are dying or being treated for less serious health issues.

“So what we’re doing here today is underscoring and solidifying in Florida law these really significant rights for Floridians (with the) “No Patient Left Alone Act” and it increases patient protections and ensures Florida families have a fundamental right to visit their loved ones receiving care in Florida hospitals, hospices and long-term care facilities. The bill bans facilities from requiring visitors to show proof of COVID vaccination,” DeSantis said.

Marstiller, who oversees Florida’s hospital systems and nursing homes, detailed the specifics of the law, which requires the state health facilities covered under it to develop visitation policies aligning with the rule within 30 days from Wednesday.

She said visitation must be allowed for various situations, including “if an individual who was living with family before entering a facility is having difficulty and struggling with a change in the environment, if the individual has to make a very important health care decision... if an individual’s experiencing emotional distress or grieving the loss of a friend or family member who recently died, if a person needs cueing or encouragement to eat or drink which was previously provided by a family member or caregiver, if someone who used to talk and interact with others, suddenly now is seldom speaking with individuals... in situations of childbirth... and finally, (when it concerns) pediatric patients.”

Marstiller said she is soon putting a page on her website where people can submit a complaint when denied visitation with their loved ones. Those who wish to file a complaint can also do so by calling 888-775-6005.

About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.