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.
   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,
   60  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   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.