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House perfects No Patient Left Alone Act

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House perfected the No Patient Left Alone Act Tuesday, which guarantees patients in hospitals and nursing homes the option to request family members be able to visit them. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals and nursing homes prevented any visitors from entering facilities to visit loved ones who are ill.

“This bill protects those in their time of need, and protects the rights of all Missourians to see their families when they are ill,” said House Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher. 

Prior to the bill’s perfection, Plocher gave a passionate floor speech about how his family was unable to visit his father-in-law while he was in the hospital. 

“As legislators, the key thing we thought about while crafting this bill was the patients. We care about what patients want in their time of need,” said Rep. Rusty Black, the bill’s sponsor. “We use the word crisis, and even as we worked to get this bill to a place more people could support, but crisis was defined differently. We want — when this bill is dusted off years from now — we want to get this process right.”

Of his ultimate goal with HB 2116, Black said: “We wanted to get rid of that phrase ‘no visitors allowed.'”

“This is the fulfillment of a campaign promise,” Rep. Brian Seitz said. “I campaigned on the twin pillars of liberty and freedom. This provides liberty to patients in the hospital to take charge once again of their own health care and allow them to have loved ones in both hospital and long term health care facilities. It’s a bill about freedom.”

If this bill becomes law, a patient will be able to identify four essential support people to be kept on file and allowed for visitation. Only two of the four people are guaranteed to be allowed to be present with the patient at all times during their stay. 

The bill still requires third reading in the House before heading to the Senate for approval.