Colorado’s Citizen Legislature – May 2022
By Doris Beaver ~
Senate Bill 22-053:
Senate Bill 22-053, to be referred to as “No Patient or Resident Left Alone Act,” is most likely in response to the pandemic when families were not allowed to visit residents in nursing care facilities or assisted living residents.
SB 053 requires health care facilities, including hospitals, nursing care facilities and assisted living residences, to allow their patient to have at least one visitor of their choosing. In addition to this requirement, such facilities “must have written policies and procedures concerning visitation, including any restrictions or limitations that are placed on visitation and the reasons for these restrictions or limitations.
SB 053 has specific prohibitions in it as to disallowing visitation if the sole reason is to reduce the risk of transmission of a pandemic disease. However, the bill does allow health care facilities to impose requirements and limitations on visitors to reduce the risk of transmission of a pandemic disease as follows (directly from the legislative fiscal note):
- during a period of heightened pandemic disease transmission risk, health care facilities may designate entry points, deny visitors with known symptoms of the pandemic disease, require visitors to wear face coverings or other protective equipment, and require them to sign a waiver acknowledging the risks of visitation;
- during a period of known community transmission of a pandemic disease, health care facilities may require all visitors to be screened for symptoms of the disease before visitation, and deny entrance to any visitor who has symptoms of the disease; and
- during widespread community transmission of the disease, facilities may limit visitation to essential caregivers or for compassionate care visits from a friend or family member to alleviate physical or emotional distress.
The Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) licenses and regulates approximately 3,620 health care facilities.. As a normal course of business, CDPHE prioritizes and investigates complaints made against health care facilities.
Look for this bill to be a hotly debated one. SB 053 passed its third reading in the Senate, and now moves on to the House.
Sponsors of Senate Bill 22-0053: Jerry Sonnenberg, (R-Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld, Yuma) 866-6360 and Senator Rod Pelton, (R-Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Yuma), 866-3706.
Senate Bill 22-079:
SB 22-079, “Concerning Required Dementia Training for Direct-Care Staff of Specified Facilities That Provide Services to Clients Living With Dementia, or adopt rules requiring these facilities, – nursing care facilities and assisted living residences, and the medical services board in the department of health care policy and financing – to adopt rules requiring said facilities to provide dementia training for staff providing direct-care services to clients and residents of the facilities.
The General Assembly notes that in 2022, an estimated seventy-six thousand Coloradans are living with Alzheimer disease, with an estimated increase of more than twenty-one percent by 2025. It should be pointed that Alzheimer and dementia are not the same disease, although far too many people refer to them as the same.
During the Pandemic, when families could not visit dementia patients living in nursing or other residential facilities, the critical need for direct-care staff to be adequately trained in dementia care was highlighted. Staff turnover becomes a huge problem through out the country. The single most important determinant of quality dementia care across all care settings is direct-care staff.
Sponsors of Senate Bill 22-079: Senators Chris Kolker, D-Arapaho, 866-4883, and Joann Ginal, D-Larimer, 866-4841; and Representative Mary Young, D-Weld, 866-2020.
Doris Beaver is a free lance journalist who writes from her home high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains on senior issues, politics, ethics and environmental issues, and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.. Visit her website www.dorisbeaver.com, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.