UPDATE: Legislation keeping loved ones united headed to governor

Law tries to balance health and safety needs with care, mental health needs

UPDATE POSTED 5 P.M. JAN. 28, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Senate Bill 100 (SB), sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque-Adams (R – Louisville), passed unanimously today and will be heading to the governor’s desk for his signature before becoming law.

This law extends provisions originally implemented in the 2021 Special Session’s SB2, which allows assisted-living facilities, long-term care facilities and mental hospital residents visits by more than one essential personal care visitor at a time. These visits are tied to the resident personally and not to an identified room or area of long-term care facilities.

“Families suffered immeasurably because people were unable to see each other, be with each other and in some instances, at the end of their natural lives,” said Adams. “This legislation is our way of addressing what happened during the pandemic when the state was under shut-down, and to prevent future situations like this.”

Prior to last summer’s Special Session, legislators heard heartbreaking stories of residents in nursing facilities passing away alone, separated from those who meant the most to them.  Adopting a holistic approach to healthcare became a priority of the Senate Majority. These priorities have included keeping students in school, maintaining access to child care for working families and considering the well-being of our physical, mental and spiritual state.

“Now that we are two years into the pandemic, we know there are safe ways for families to be as close as possible to their loved ones who have meant so much to them,” Adams said.

SB 100 allows every resident to designate  “essential personal caregivers” rather than an assigned space.  These essential caregivers could be a family member, legal guardian, outside caregiver, friend or volunteer.  The law outlines necessary health and safety policies and procedures during those visits.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 5 P.M. JAN. 27, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lawmakers continue to learn as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

One thing they’ve learned is the mental and physical health of long-term care patients suffered due to COVID-19-related visitor restrictions. Senate Bill 100 aims to permanently change that.

On Thursday, Rep. Michael Sarge Pollock, R-Campbellsville, presented SB 100 on the House floor on behalf of the primary sponsor Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville.

“This bill provides a strong infrastructure that allows families to be the critical care partners that they are,” Pollock said. “It maintains a role of a personal caregiver and their important role in the mental, physical and spiritual social well-being of the resident.”

During Thursday’s meeting of the House Health and Welfare Committee, Adams testified that SB 100 would make family members, guardians, friends, pastors, clergy and other individuals essential caregivers and would permanently allow them to visit residents of long term care, assisted living and mental health facilities.

Essential personal caregivers would have to follow safety guidelines set by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services during visitation.

Measures passed during the 2021 Regular Session and Special Session temporarily allowed long-term care patients an essential caregiver. But those provisions expire Jan. 31, Adams said.

On the House floor, Rep. Cherlynn Stevenson, D-Lexington, said although she worries about a few loopholes in the bill, she supports SB 100 and recognizes long-term care facilities have struggled to find a delicate balance when it comes to allowing visitors and protecting residents from COVID-19.

“We know that these visitors provide significant amounts of hands-on care,” Stevenson said.

The Kentucky Senate unanimously approved SB 100 by a 35-0 vote last week. Due to a few changes made to the bill in the House, it will now go before the full Senate for concurrence.

If the Senate agrees with the changes, the measure will be sent to the governor’s desk for his signature or veto. An emergency clause in the bill means it would become law immediately upon his signature.

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