Governor Kay Ivey has signed bill SB113 into law, which aims to give visitors more access to their loved ones in healthcare facilities including hospitals and assisted living facilities.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Garlan Gudger, will grant patients the right to designate a specific visitor as an essential caregiver. This caregiver would be allowed to visit the patient for a minimum of two hours daily. Clergy would be given the same visitation rights as caregivers.
Visitation will also be required to be allowed in certain circumstances including end of life, when a patient is in distress, for pediatric patients and more.
“The ability to visit a cherished loved one, whether in a hospital or nursing home, should be a fundamental right,” Ivey said. “However, all over the country during the pandemic, many family members, caregivers and even clergy were denied access to visit and provide emotional support to patients in healthcare facilities. Such restrictions defy the norms of a caring society, and I was pleased to sign this legislation to signal that in Alabama, we support our patients having this fundamental right.”
The legislation also includes provisions that safety-related policies health care facilities enact can not require visitors to submit proof of vaccination or immunization status. Also, consensual physical contact must be allowed between patients and their visitors.
These provisions can not be altered under a public health emergency.
The law will go into effect thirty days after its signing.