House Passes Bill Allowing Family to Visit Long-Term Care Residents
Mike Seals - March 2, 2021 10:27 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that would require long-term care facilities to allow visitation to family members of residents passed the House last night 73-19.
House Bill 1677, authored by Rep. Marilyn Stark, R-Bethany, states that long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities must allow each resident to designate one or more compassionate caregivers, granting them in-person visits. If access to the facilities is restricted at any time to protect resident health and safety, precautions must be taken by the facilities to ensure designated compassionate caregivers can visit residents.
“Isolation and depressions is a very real threat to our elderly Oklahomans, many of whom haven’t seen their loved ones since the pandemic began a year ago,” Stark said. “I hope House Bill 1677 will give some peace of mind to Oklahomans who are worried about their loved ones in long term care and assisted living facilities, ensuring their right to see their loved ones.”
Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Jenks, co-authored the measure.
“The language in this measure is focused on enforcing the Compassionate Care Guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,” Dills said. “Compassionate care is not just defined to end of life. It involves not only the physical wellbeing of residents but emotional wellbeing. That is the heart and soul of this legislation.”
American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Oklahoma State President Joe Ann Vermillion said the organization was supportive of HB1677.
“Nursing home residents’ mental and physical health have suffered, in some cases irreparably, due to many long-term care facilities restricting access to loved ones, unpaid family caregivers, clergy and friends despite CMS and the State Department of Health explicitly stating those visits must occur,” Vermillion said. “We appreciate the work of Representative Stark and the support of the Oklahoma House of Representatives in helping to right this wrong with the passage of House Bill 1677.”
HB1677 stipulates that compassionate caregivers may have their status revoked if they refuse to comply with reasonable precautions, but visitation cannot be eliminated altogether.
The bill now advances to the Senate, where it is co-authored by Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore.