Legislation by State Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) to establish certain visitation policies for hospitals and nursing homes passed a State Senate healthcare committee on Thursday.

The bill would "provide that residents, clients, or patients of a healthcare facility have the right to visit with any individual of their choosing during the facility's visiting hours" and "would prohibit a healthcare facility from requiring visitors to submit proof of vaccination or from prohibiting 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."

Alabama legislators passed a bill in 2021 requiring healthcare facilities to allow patients to have visitors during a public health emergency with exceptions due to federal law and restrictions.

"I think everyone if I went around the table and asked you to give one story, I think you'd have multiple stories that people could not get in to be able to see their loved ones through Covid or other times that they were in either hospitals or nursing homes," Gudger said at a committee meeting on Thursday. "I had multiple stories myself, and I had multiple phone calls through the last two years of people calling, saying, 'Hey, we passed this bill, but I still can't get in to see my loved one, especially at the end of life.'"

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