OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Cynthia Roe, R-Lindsay, has filed legislation to require medical entities to allow visitation to COVID-19 patients, even when the patient is in isolation from the public and other patients.
House Bill 3313 allows a patient with COVID-19 to designate an individual with full visitation rights. The individual may be required by the hospital to comply with certain requirements, including signing an acknowledgment-of-risks document, receiving a health screening from staff or wearing personal protective equipment.
“Many Oklahomans have had to endure the horrible heartbreak of not being with a loved one while they were hospitalized with COVID-19,” Roe said. “This adds stress and trauma onto an already fraught situation.”
Roe said she has heard from constituents who were either not allowed to visit a loved one or were not allowed to receive a guest while hospitalized for COVID-19.
“Hospitalized Oklahomans have the right to visitation regardless of their health issues,” Roe said. “Not seeing anybody besides their nurses and doctors takes a severe toll on a patient’s mental health.”
Roe added, “I firmly believe that human touch is essential to the healing process.”
Roe has been a registered nurse for 39 years and a nurse practitioner for 22 years. She currently chairs the House Public Health Committee.
The hospital may revoke visitation rights to individuals if they fail to follow safety protocols or visitation policies.
If an individual’s right is revoked, the patient may designate a new individual. Individuals who have been suspended from visitation shall be reviewed every 30 days for reinstatement.
Last year, the Legislature approved the No Patient Left Alone Act to allow patients to designate a visitor to have unrestricted visitation, but Roe said facilities have not been complying. The legislation, House Bill 2687, did not include any kind of enforcement mechanism.
HB3313 also allows any person to bring a civil action against anybody who isolates a COVID-19 patient without visitation rights, knowingly aids in the isolation of a patient or intends to isolate or aid in the isolation.
The bill has an emergency clause allowing it to take effect immediately upon becoming law.
HB3313 is available for consideration in the upcoming legislative session, which begins Monday, Feb. 7.
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