SB 988: No Patient Left Alone Act
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and has brought about numerous questions about local, state and federal policies. Over the last 2 ½ years, we’ve been barraged with multiple news stories trying to clarify what government agencies and health groups recommend to ensure the health and safety of ourselves and our loved ones during these times.
On April 6, Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 988 (https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2022/988) after massive bipartisan support that began with a 37 – 0 vote by the State Senate and a 115 – 2 vote by the State House of Representatives after numerous reviews and amendments were made. The bill is in response to the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) actions in reinstating federal visitation protections in 2020, but continuing to waive visitation policies for hospitals and care centers, allowing them to prohibit visitations for patients living in Florida. This took a particular toll on seniors during the pandemic, as many people in this community began to experience depression and loneliness that drastically affected their quality of life.
According to Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Simone Marstiller, “As Florida’s health care regulator, we take these matters and stand ready to investigate any violations of the law.” The CDC, federal and state governments were concerned about the risk to our senior communities because of quarantine measures. Regular visitations can help ward off cognitive and physical problems, provide support systems and ensure seniors are receiving the adequate care they deserve.
Key Points to the No Patient Left Alone Act
Unless the resident, client or patient denies visitors, the SB 988 No Patient Left Alone Act will allow visitations for all of the following situations:
- End-of-life situations for a resident, client or patient
- 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 were previously provided by a family member or caregiver
- A resident, client or patient who used to talk and interact with others is seldom speaking
The No Patient Left Alone Act also allows a resident, client or patient to designate a visitor who is a family member, friend or other individuals as an essential caregiver. An essential caregiver must be allowed at least 2 hours each day in addition to any visitation by an authorized provider. The law impacts several people but is an important legislative decision that helps improve the emotional and mental state of residents, clients or patients of the senior community.
What Can You Do If You Find Violations to SB 988?
The No Patient Left Alone Act takes effect immediately. All hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and intermediate care facilities must adopt and post visitation policies on-site and must be easily accessible on website home pages. If they fail to do so or instances of resistance to visitations under the stated situations occur, the state government recommends you immediately file a complaint with the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) https://ahca.myflorida.com/ for review. If you are unsure about the law and would like assistance before you file a complaint, you can reach out to attorneys Wendy Mara (https://ourseniors.net/legal/florida/ormond-beach/business-law/wendy-a-mara/) and Andrew Grant (https://ourseniors.net/legal/florida/daytona-beach/business-law/andrew-c-grant/), members of the OurSeniors.org Senior Transition Pro Team.
We hope you find this important news for seniors helpful as we move forward past the Covid-19 pandemic. OurSeniors.net strives to provide the latest information on mental & physical health, social life, economy, and legal issues as it relates to our senior and retiree communities through our senior living magazine, our Facebook page, and our website.