MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Gov. Kay Ivey Thursday signed into law a measure proponents call a patients rights bill, giving hospital and nursing home patients the right to certain visitation.
The Harold Sachs and Anne Roberts law comes in the aftermath of COVID-19 restrictions that left many, including some lawmakers, unable to be with loved ones during their final days.
“We said goodbye to my beloved wife of 42 and a half years, and that was it,” Sen. Dan Roberts said.
Sen. Roberts says he could see his wife only through a glass window.
“And I don’t know what your love language is but ours in our family is often touch– it’s a hug, it’s holding a hand, it’s being there. And all of us were denied that opportunity to be with our loved one in their final days,” Roberts said.
During an emotional press conference, Rep. Debbie Wood shared how she lost her mother in 2021 but couldn’t see her before she died.
“What haunted me was the fact that my mother may have thought that we abandoned her because we were not with her. When she needed us the most, we were cut off. So that’s what this bill is about,” Wood said.
The bill allows patients to designate an essential caregiver who would be guaranteed visitation rights. It also prevents visitors from being denied entrance because of vaccine status.
Some Democrats initially opposed the legislation, saying it would tie the hands of healthcare leaders during health emergencies.
“If this bill had been logged during the height of the pandemic, infections and fatalities would have been far worse than what we did experience with the 21,000,” Rep. A.J. McCampbell said.
The legislation ultimately passed in the House 100 to 1, and in the Senate, unanimously.