OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma lawmaker says he wants to make a change to a law that was passed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
In April, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a measure that would provide protections for hospital patients and their families during declared health emergencies.
House Bill 2687, also known as the ‘No Patient Left Alone Act,’ allows for any minor or adult patient to designate a visitor that would have unrestricted visitation to patient care regardless of emergency declarations by the governor or the Legislature.
“It’s difficult enough when someone must endure treatment in a hospital, but to do so without a family member or friend to keep you company is even worse – and that is what we’ve seen during the COVID-19 outbreak,” Sen. Micheal Bergstrom said in April. “Children, the elderly, and people with life-threatening illnesses – some who even died – found themselves without a loved one by their sides. That should never be the case if someone is available. The No Patient Left Alone Act simply ensures that no one should have to suffer in a hospital alone.”
However, Sen. Bergstrom says they overlooked one aspect that is important to a lot of Oklahomans.
“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.”
Senate Bill 1096 would ensure that patients hospitalized during a declared health emergency could be visited by a pastor, minister, spiritual advisor or other religious leader.
The measure doesn’t modify stipulations included in the No Patient Left Alone Act.
Senate Bill 1096 can be considered during the 2022 legislative session, which will begin on Feb. 7.