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Arkansas lawmakers propose a bill to allow hospital visitors

KIFI

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    FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas (KFSM) — When the Covid-19 pandemic hit some local hospitals tightened their visitor policies, leaving many families longing to be with their loved ones.

Some Arkansas lawmakers are now writing bills that would require hospitals to let family’s visit those patients.

Representative Julie Mayberry is backing the “no patient left alone act” which would require health care providers to allow at least one person to be physically present with the patient on a daily basis at a reasonable time during their hospitalization, office visit or institutionalization.

“We look at the numbers of the people who died because of Covid-19 and I kind of wonder how many of them would not have died had they not felt so isolated and so alone,” Mayberry said. “That’s a number that would be hard to gather to understand but I really believe there are a lot of people who are just giving up.”

Mayberry’s 18-year-old daughter recently spent three months in Arkansas Children’s Hospital, where visitors are allowed and where Mayberry was constantly by her side.

“We’ve experienced it as a family and I’ve seen how different hospitals have responded and luckily my daughter at the time she was 18 years old so I could be in the hospital with her and my point is if Arkansas Children’s Hospital can allow a loved one to be in the hospital room why can’t the other hospitals,” Mayberry said.

Jodiane Tritt with the Arkansas Hospital Association says the children’s hospital was already prepared to allow visitors before the pandemic, but not all hospitals were designed that way.

“Early in the pandemic we actually had more trouble with in-person visitation than we do right now,” Tritt said. “Even though our number of patients in the hospital with covid right now are higher and that’s because we had a supply chain issue with PPE.”

Tritt says hospitals fully recognize the important role loved ones provide and have tried to accommodate families to the best of their ability, and the proposed legislation is well-intended.

“We are working very diligently to be able to come to an agreement because again we do understand the need and the assistance that those caregivers provide patients while we’re trying to do our best to keep them healthy and get them back home where they want to be,” Tritt said.

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