State Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, has filed a measure modifying the No Patient Left Alone Act, which was approved by the Legislature during the 2021 session and will go into effect on Nov. 1. Senate Bill 1096 would ensure patients hospitalized during a declared health emergency could be visited by a pastor, minister, spiritual advisor or other religious leader.
This measure would modify House Bill 2687, the No Patient Left Alone Act, which allows patients to designate a visitor to have unrestricted visitation regardless of emergency declarations by the governor or Legislature.
“During the height of the pandemic, we saw patients in hospitals unable to have loved ones by their side during their darkest moments,” Bergstrom said. “That’s why we passed the No Patient Left Alone Act – to ensure no one has to suffer in the hospital alone. However, we neglected to address the patient’s spiritual welfare which often means having a pastor or religious leader being able to visit. We know how important faith is to a vast majority of Oklahomans – which is why I filed SB 1096 – to ensure pastors, ministers or other faith leaders can provide comfort to those hospitalized during a declared health emergency.”
The measure doesn’t modify stipulations included in the No Patient Left Alone Act. Hospitals would still be able to implement policies to restrict visitation rights under certain circumstances, such as if a visitor interferes with the care or rights of a patient or is engaged in disruptive, threatening or violent behavior towards a staff member, patient or other visitor. Visitors would not be allowed in restricted areas of the hospital like operating rooms, isolation units or behavioral health settings; they may also be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) or comply with reasonable safety protocols.
Senate Bill 1096 can be considered during the 2022 legislative session, which will begin Monday, Feb. 7. If approved by both chambers and signed by the governor, it would go into effect immediately.