OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation allowing patients to designate a visitor to have unrestricted visitation has been signed by the Governor.
House Bill 2687, titled the “No Patient Left Alone Act,” is authored by Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, R-Elgin. She filed the legislation after hearing from constituents whose loved ones were not allowed to have a single visitor during the height of the pandemic.
“Many Oklahomans have been unable to see loved ones during the pandemic because the hospital or care facility has not allowed visitors since last March,” Hasenbeck said. “Adding isolation on top of health struggles drastically affects the patient’s mental health, and many people died without getting to see their family or friends one last time. I am very glad to see this bill signed into law so all Oklahomans can have at least one visitor while they’re hospitalized.”
The bill prohibits termination, suspension or waiver of visitation rights by the hospital, State Department of Health, or any governmental entity regardless of declarations of emergency by the Governor or Legislature.
HB2687 was authored by Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair.
“The thought of any family member being left alone in the hospital while being critically ill or dying is absolutely heartbreaking,” Bergstrom said. “However, this was the reality for many Oklahomans during the COVID-19 pandemic due to strict hospital visitation policies. This measure will ensure every patient has the right to a family member, friend or patient advocate during their stay at a hospital facility, regardless if a health emergency has been declared. I’m thankful we were able to get this piece of legislation across the finish line.”
HB2687 allows for certain restrictions by the hospital, but hospitals are prohibited from requiring patients to waive their rights specified in this act. The bill requires hospitals to post informational materials about the patients’ rights in this act in a prominent place.