On Wednesday, February 9th, in a 6-2 in mostly party line vote, the Arizona Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed SB1514. Before the vote, members heard heartbreaking testimony in support of the bill from families whose loved ones died alone in hospitals as a result of COVID-19 mitigation measures.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Barto, outline the requirements for health care institution visitation policies, including the right for patients to be accompanied by two visitors at all times or their entire immediate family and a clergy member if it is likely the patient will die or lose consciousness within 24 hours. The bill also prohibits health care institutions from blocking a patient’s right to operate and possess communication devices.
“Families and health care workers were heard yesterday-some staying all day for the chance to tell how hospitals’ restrictive visitation policies harmed their families during COVID,” said Barto. “It was a long day, but nothing compared to what these families have been through.”
“I have a hard time understanding the attitude of the hospitals who have seemingly abandoned all sense of “humankindness” in the wake of COVID fear,” said Committee member Sen. Kelly Townsend. “They have violated ARS36-1301 that says a person has a legal right to refuse service or choose the mode of health care by denying families and the patient any say in the management of care while in the hospital and at the end of life. Many are questioning the type of treatment received in the hospital, and have expressed fear to ever go back and trust their medical care to these hospitals. I must say, I do not blame them. We need a reassessment of who we are as Arizonans, as human beings. God forgive us.”