Legislation by State Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) and State Rep. Debbie Wood (R-Valley) to establish certain visitation policies of friends and family for hospitals and nursing homes passed a House committee unanimously on Tuesday.

The Senate passed the legislation last week.

The bill would ensure the right to visit anyone in a health care facility during visiting hours without having to show proof of vaccination and allow "consensual physical contact between a visitor and a resident, client, or patient." The legislation would also "require healthcare facilities to allow visitors for residents, clients, or patients in certain situations, including end-of-life scenarios; childbirth; pediatric care; and for those who are having adjustment issues, making a major medical decision, experiencing emotional distress or grief, or struggling to eat, drink, or speak in certain situations."

Wood said in a House Health Committee meeting on Wednesday morning that the bill was an improvement on past legislation that attempted unsuccessfully to solve similar issues during and after the pandemic.

“We had people that went to the hospital that took the over bill and stood there, waiving it saying, ‘I have rights.’ The hospital said that other bill said that we get to make our own decisions and they didn’t get in,” Wood said. “We compromised and worked really hard on the other bill. We were right in the middle of an emotional and volatile climate, and we tried to do the best we could. It just wasn’t enough. Now, we’ve come back to what we think is enough and we’ve all worked through it.”

Gudger's bill references Harold Sachs and Ann Roberts in the legislation. Sachs, a longtime chief of staff for the Alabama Republican Party, passed away in November 2020 after weeks in the hospital battling COVID-19 alone. 

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.

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