State Reps. Melanie Miller (R-City of Ashland) and Beth Lear (R-Galena) have introduced “The Never Alone Act” (HB 236) in the Ohio House. The legislation ensures every patient can access someone to advocate for their health, who can be present with the patient during their stay at a facility.
“Over the last three years we have gained a heightened awareness of the need for legislation that protects the right of a patient to have access to a loved one or advocate to act on behalf of their best interest while in a hospital or care facility,” Miller said. “Staffing shortages and severe inpatient facility visitation protocols left thousands of Ohioans without the attention they desperately needed and even worse, many saw the end of their life in a cold empty room without a familiar voice or hand to hold.”
In learning from the COVID emergency when Ohioans were isolated from loved ones due to an overabundance of caution, the bill:
- Creates a right for patients and long-term care residents to have access to an advocate of their choosing so that they can be accompanied by a loved one who can advocate for their health needs;
- Requires care facilities to provide patients and residents with information on their right to select an advocate and to have the advocate with them in the care setting;
- Balances protecting the rights and interests of patients with the health and safety concerns of the care facilities by ensuring both that patients are not totally isolated from loved ones, and relieving the care facilities from specific risk and liabilities associated with exposure.
“What happened to people during COVID must never be allowed to happen again,” said Lear. “Our grandparents, spouses, loved ones and children should never be left alone to suffer. We cannot give up our compassion and humanity in the name of fear. I’m so grateful to share sponsorship of this important bill with Rep. Melanie Miller and look forward to helping navigate it through the committee process to the Governor’s desk.”
Miller further emphasized the importance of a patient having access to a loved one during such dire times.
“We believe that no Ohioan should have to face hospitalization or death alone,” Miller added. “‘The Never Alone Act’ will finally ensure that every inpatient Ohioan will be allowed access to someone who can advocate for their health and also be the hand they hold when they take their final breath. Every one of us deserves the comfort of a loved one during times of need and at the end of life.”