Essential Caregiver bill passes Florida House
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Next week marks two years since Florida started shutting down over fears of COVID-19.
That included thousands of long-term care facilities.
It was an effort to protect the state’s most vulnerable.
However, as the lockdown lasted, families started to see the impacts of isolation.
But now, a law is heading to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
The bill is the fulfillment of a promise by Mary Daniel to her husband, Steve, to never leave his side after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Mary’s story started a movement that changed the lives of people, not just in Florida, but all over the country.
Late Wednesday night, in a 115 to two vote, the Florida House passed the “No Patient Left Alone Act.”
“The relief that it’s actually here, it’s just emotional. It’s been a lot of work and a long road these last two years,” Daniel said.
Mary Daniel is the founder of “Caregivers for Compromise.”
The group stemmed from her story, two years ago, taking a job as a dishwasher at her husband’s memory care, just so she could see him in-person.
“Steve is significantly declining. These last three days have been very emotional in that regard. The timing of this, the last three nights, I’ve actually had to sit with him, on his bed with him, and rub his back so he could go to sleep. And he did. Rubbing his back, he went to sleep the last three nights. And that’s new. That’s something that I haven’t had to do before, so the significance of the touch, of me being able to be there to rub his back and hold his hand, is even more significant today than ever,” Daniel said.
The bill, sponsored by District 7 House Representative Jason Shoaf, creates two types of visitations in Florida.
General visitation which, in some cases, can be restricted
And essential care which allows daily, in-person visits to those in long term care, no matter what.
“My mother and my family’s mother never has to fear that she’ll be isolated again,” Mary Ellen said.
Mary Daniel’s story inspiring families like Mary Ellen’s to come together during the pandemic to advocate for their loved ones.
“It’s never been just about Steve and me. It’s just been about all of us. And so, this is just a victory for all of us. That we can work hard and we can make changes,” Daniel said.
Governor DeSantis is expected to sign this bill.
Once signed, it’ll take effect July 1, 2022.
Mary said the next step will follow the lead of Texas and try to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot.
That won’t happen until next year’s legislative session.
If passed, the constitutional amendment would make sure every long-term resident has a right to an essential caregiver.
That way the law can never be changed or taken away.
WCTV is committed to continue telling stories involving different issues surrounding the long-term care industry.
If you have a story you’d like to share or something we need to look into, please reach out to Abby Walton at email@example.com.
If you’d like to read the entire “No Patient Left Alone Act,” click here.
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