Alabama Senate passes bill mandating health care facilities allow at least one visitor per patient or resident
MONTOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Tuesday passed as amended HB 521, which was sponsored by Rep. Debbie Wood (R-Valley) and carried in the upper chamber by Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman).
The legislation would require health care facilities, including nursing homes, to allow at least one caregiver or visitor to each patient or resident.
“This is an important piece of legislation that I was proud to sponsor in the Senate. Patients and residents of health care facilities, even during a public health outbreak, should have the right to a caregiver and have a right to be visited by their loved ones,” Gudger stated.
After two Senate floor amendments, the bill goes back to the House for concurrence or nonconcurrence. Concurrence would send the bill to the governor’s desk, while nonconcurrence would send the measure to a conference committee.
Gudger included an amendment in remembrance of Wood’s mother, Peggy Hamby, who passed away due to COVID-19. HB 521 “represents Mrs. Hamby and the countless Alabamians who tragically lost relatives and loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“I was especially proud to use this legislation to honor Representative Debbie Wood’s mother, who unfortunately passed away from the coronavirus last year,” Gudger concluded. “She is one of many people in our state who have lost loved ones this past year, and my hope is that the memory of those lost is reflected in this bill. I appreciate Rep. Wood introducing this legislation in the House and ensuring that people in these facilities can get the companionship from loved ones they need.”
The second amendment — introduced by Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) — named the bill in honor of the late Harold Dallas Sachs of Winston County, who also passed away after a bought with the coronavirus last year.
“As tough as the past year has been for the people of our state, we have been able to learn lessons on how we can better handle and respond to future pandemics such as this,” Reed said in a statement. “One of those lessons learned has been the need for patients in health care facilities to be able to receive visits from caregivers and their loved ones.”
“It was also a privilege to be able to honor the life of Harold Dallas Sachs, who passed late last year, in this bill. Harold was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and Christian man,” he continued. “He was also a humble servant to the people of Alabama, who worked tirelessly to help this state meet its full potential and leave it in a place better than he found it. I am glad we could honor him in this bill, and I thank Senator Gudger and Representative Wood for all of their important work getting this done.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn