We are all weary of the restrictions, masking, social distancing and other intrusions of COVID. We want a return to pre-pandemic normal. Early days efforts to save lives and control the spread of coronavirus, resulted in health care facilities restricting patients and residents from having visitors, including spouses, parents, close family members or caregivers. Many patients and residents, even those who were not diagnosed with COVID-19, experienced severe anxiety, depression, and diminished quality of life as they were deprived of physical connection with their loved ones.
With the passage of the “The No Patient Left Alone Act,” the State of North Carolina ensured patients and residents of hospitals, nursing homes, adult care homes, hospice, and other treatment facilities regular visitation with friends and family of their choosing. Health care facilities must allow “compassionate care” visits during difficult circumstances including: end-of-life, a new resident struggling with a new environment, a grieving resident, a resident who needs family or caregiver assistance with eating or drinking, or a resident experiencing severe emotional distress. The facility may require compassionate care visitors to submit to health screenings and follow safety guidelines, including wearing personal protective equipment. Visitors who do not pass a health screening or who tested positive for an infectious disease may be restricted access.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that we need each other. Without human connection, the quality of our lives is diminished and impaired. We need visits with family and friends, regardless of where we live and whether we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Alone is not a good place for humans.
Louise Paglen, Trust, Estate, Special Needs Planning & Elder Law Attorney