Florida Protects Peoples’ Rights To Visit Loved Ones in Hospital - Governor DeSantis Announces In-Person Visitation Law

Toby Hazlewood

Protecting in-person visitation rights for the future

Governor Ron DeSantisTwitter of GovRonDeSantis

On July 5, Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis posted a statement online regarding another of the new laws that have just taken effect in Florida - he was talking about the 'In-Person Visitation' bill which was approved by state legislators earlier this year under senate bill SB998.

The bill has also become known as the 'No Patient Left Alone' act in reference to the circumstances of the pandemic of 2020 and 2021. During this time, many patients in hospitals and care facilities in Florida and around the world were denied visitation from family, friends and loved-ones due to the perceived risk of transmission of the pandemic virus.

Protecting rights to visit loved ones

Sick and elderly patients were left stranded alone in healthcare facilities, unable to receive visitors due to constraints placed upon the facilities themselves. Florida has followed the example set by other states, and the bill was almost unanimously approved in the Florida House, 115 votes to 2.

North Carolina enacted a similar bill in October 2021:

Florida joins at least 8 other states with similar legal provisions in place. Many others are also considering similar legal changes.

Protecting patient and visitor freedoms

The newly enacted law requires healthcare providers (including nursing homes and other residential care facilities) to establish visitation policies and procedures within a specified timeframe and ensuring that no patient has to face unreasonable delays before receiving visitors.

Circumstances that have been given as examples where this is particularly important to accommodate include end-of-life situations and childbirth.

Healthcare facilities also won’t be allowed to require proof of any vaccination for a visit.

While many Floridians will welcome the change in law, there will of course be those who feel it's a little late. Many sick and elderly patients were denied visitation and comfort during times of sickness and in the most severe cases, died alone. There were also likely cases where mothers gave birth without their spouses by their side, due to restrictions placed on visitation during the pandemic.

Such circumstances will hopefully be avoided in future.

Were you or your family affected by limitations to patient visitation? Let me know in the comments section below.

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