Senate Passes Bill to Require Health Care Facilities to Allow a Caregiver or Visitor to Patients, Residents

By Garlan Gudger & Greg Reed

The Legislation finds that it is in the best interests of the residents of Alabama to continue to have access to their loved ones receiving acute care or residing in long-term care facilities during a public health emergency

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Senator Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) today released the following statement after the Senate passed legislation he sponsored that would require health care facilities to allow at least one caregiver or visitor to each patient or resident.

Gudger included an amendment that remembers the mother of House sponsor Rep. Debbie Wood (R-Valley), Peggy Hamby, who succumbed to COVID-19. This bill represents Mrs. Hamby and the countless Alabamians who tragically lost relatives and loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill also reflects on the life of Harold Dallas Sachs, who passed last year, by naming this bill in his honor.

“This is an important piece of legislation that I was proud to sponsor in the Senate. Patients and residents of health care facilities, even during a public health outbreak, should have the right to a caregiver and have a right to be visited by their loved ones,” Gudger said. “I was especially proud to use this legislation to honor Representative Debbie Wood’s mother, who unfortunately passed away from the coronavirus last year. She is one of many people in our state who have lost loved ones this past year, and my hope is that the memory of those lost is reflected in this bill. I appreciate Rep. Wood introducing this legislation in the House and ensuring that people in these facilities can get the companionship from loved ones they need.”

Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) voiced his strong support for this bill:

“As tough as the past year has been for the people of our state, we have been able to learn lessons on how we can better handle and respond to future pandemics such as this. One of those lessons learned has been the need for patients in health care facilities to be able to receive visits from caregivers and their loved ones,” Reed said. “It was also a privilege to be able to honor the life of Harold Dallas Sachs, who passed late last year, in this bill.  Harold was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and Christian man. He was also a humble servant to the people of Alabama, who worked tirelessly to help this state meet its full potential and leave it in a place better than he found it. I am glad we could honor him in this bill, and I thank Senator Gudger and Representative Wood for all of their important work getting this done.”

The legislation, which passed the Senate today, passed the House of Representatives on April 7.

The Legislature finds that it is in the best interests of the residents of Alabama to continue to have access to their loved ones receiving acute care or residing in long-term care facilities during a public health emergency, and that companionship with one’s loved ones during that time can provide support and peace of mind that positively impacts the healing process.