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Senate unanimously approves extension of essential caregivers for in-person visitors to long-term centers

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Legislation that would allow an essential caregiver to have in-person visits with residents of long-term care centers and other facilities won unanimous approval from the Kentucky Senate Friday.

Sen. Julie Raque Adams

Senate Bill 100, sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, states that the Cabinet for Health and Family Services shall require a community, a facility, and a mental hospital to such visitation by an essential compassionate care visitor. That could include a family member, legal guardian, outside caregiver, friend, or volunteer who is important to the mental, physical, or social well-being of the resident.

“This legislation is modeled after the essential caregiver provisions that were included in the 2021 regular session House Bill 1, and the 2021 special session Senate Bill 2,” she told her colleagues on the Senate floor. “The essential caregiver provision included in SB 2 are set to expire on Jan 31, so it’s just a few days. This bill is needed to maintain the essential caregiver program in Kentucky.”

In-person visitation to such residents was banned during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, until the essential caregiver measures were enacted.

“Patient care is not just about medical care, as we all know,” Raque Adams stated.  “It’s about considering the holistic needs of the individual – their mental, emotional, and spiritual needs.  And that will go toward some of these people’s survival in some of these facilities.”

Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, also spoke in favor of the bill.

“The people in our long-term care facilities and nursing homes in the last year have suffered immensely,” he said.  “I’ve had some very personal experiences in the last two years of people who have been isolated, literally begging to be with their families, and being held in a sterile environment, where they were really willing to accept more risk, because they wanted to a live a full life with their families in their very last days.”

The measure passed 35-0, and now heads to the House. It contains an emergency clause due to the Jan. 31 expiration date, so it would take effect immediately upon the signature of the governor.

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