Florida Senate - 2022 SB 988 By Senator Garcia 37-00839-22 2022988__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to patient visitation rights; 3 providing a short title; creating s. 408.823, F.S.; 4 requiring providers to allow clients to receive 5 visitors during their admission; requiring providers 6 to develop certain alternative visitation protocols if 7 providers have to restrict public access to their 8 facilities for health or safety concerns; requiring 9 providers to allow in-person visits in specified 10 circumstances; authorizing providers to require 11 visitors to adhere to specified infection control 12 protocols; authorizing providers to refuse visitation 13 to a visitor who does not pass a health screening or 14 refuses to comply with the provider’s infection 15 control protocols; requiring providers to submit their 16 visitation policies to the Agency for Health Care 17 Administration by a specified date for approval; 18 requiring providers to submit updated policies within 19 a specified timeframe under certain circumstances; 20 requiring providers to notify clients and, if 21 possible, their family members or caregivers of their 22 visitation rights and provide them with specified 23 information; requiring the agency to dedicate a 24 webpage on its website containing specified 25 information; requiring the agency to investigate a 26 report of a violation within a specified timeframe; 27 providing administrative penalties; requiring the 28 agency to adopt rules; providing an effective date. 29 30 WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused great uncertainty 31 and anxiety across this state and has significantly affected 32 patients and residents in health care facilities, and 33 WHEREAS, health care facilities have made great efforts to 34 keep patients and employees in a safe environment and have 35 attempted to minimize, to the extent possible, the risk of 36 spread of COVID-19, and 37 WHEREAS, these prevention measures have had many unintended 38 consequences for patients and residents of these facilities who 39 were not diagnosed with COVID-19, and 40 WHEREAS, patients and residents of health care facilities 41 who were not diagnosed with COVID-19 were prohibited from having 42 any visitors, including a spouse, parent, close family member, 43 guardian, health care agent, or caregiver, as a result of COVID 44 19 prevention measures, and 45 WHEREAS, many families have been unable to be physically 46 present with their loved ones while they were in a hospital, 47 long-term care facility, or residential treatment setting for 48 mental illnesses, developmental or intellectual disabilities, or 49 substance use disorders, and have been limited to electronic 50 video communications, if any, and 51 WHEREAS, the patients and residents affected by these 52 restrictions include adults, minors, and individuals with 53 intellectual or developmental disabilities, and 54 WHEREAS, the Legislature finds that it is in the best 55 interest of the state and its residents that the patients and 56 residents of health care facilities be allowed visitation by 57 visitors of their choosing during their hospitalization or 58 residential treatment, NOW, THEREFORE, 59 60 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 61 62 Section 1. This act may be cited as the “No Patient Left 63 Alone Act.” 64 Section 2. Section 408.823, Florida Statutes, is created to 65 read: 66 408.823 Client visitation rights.— 67 (1) A provider shall allow clients to receive visitors 68 during their admission in accordance with agency rules. 69 (2) If circumstances require a provider to restrict public 70 access to the facility due to health or safety concerns, the 71 provider must develop alternate visitation protocols that allow 72 visitation to the greatest extent possible while maintaining 73 client health and safety. 74 (3) A provider must allow in-person visits in all of the 75 following circumstances: 76 (a) End-of-life situations. 77 (b) A client who was living with his or her family before 78 recently being admitted to the provider’s facility is struggling 79 with the change in environment and lack of physical family 80 support. 81 (c) A client is grieving the loss of a friend or family 82 member who recently died. 83 (d) A client needs cueing or encouragement to eat or drink 84 which was previously provided by a family member or caregiver, 85 and the client is experiencing weight loss or dehydration. 86 (e) A client who used to talk and interact with others is 87 experiencing emotional distress, is seldom speaking, or is 88 crying more frequently than he or she did previously. 89 (f) Any other circumstance the agency deems appropriate. 90 (4) To ensure the health and safety of clients, a provider 91 may require visitors to adhere to infection control protocols, 92 including passing a health screening and wearing personal 93 protective equipment while on the premises of the provider’s 94 facility. A provider may refuse visitation if the visitor does 95 not pass a health screening or refuses to comply with the 96 provider’s infection control protocols. 97 (5) Providers shall submit their visitation policies to the 98 agency by January 1 each year for approval. If the agency finds 99 any provision of a provider’s visitation policy deficient or not 100 in compliance with this section or the agency’s rules, the 101 provider must submit an updated policy conforming such provision 102 within 30 days after the agency’s notice. 103 (6) Providers must notify clients and, if possible, their 104 family members or caregivers of their visitation rights under 105 this section and provide them with the contact information for 106 the agency and the link to the dedicated webpage on the agency’s 107 website specified in subsection (7). 108 (7) The agency must dedicate a webpage on its website to 109 explain visitation rights authorized under this section and 110 provide a method for individuals to report violations of this 111 section to the agency. The agency shall investigate a report of 112 a violation within 30 days after receiving the report. 113 (8) A violation of this section or the rules adopted 114 pursuant hereto constitutes a class III violation as specified 115 in s. 408.813. If a provider does not correct a violation in the 116 time specified by the agency or repeats a violation, the agency 117 must impose an administrative fine of at least $500 per 118 violation. Each occurrence and each day that the violation 119 continues constitutes a separate violation. 120 (9) The agency shall adopt rules to implement this section. 121 Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2022.