Another NC health care visitation measure headed to governor

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Hospitals, nursing homes and adult care and hospice care facilities in North Carolina would be required to allow patient visits in a measure given final legislative approval on Wednesday.

The bill is the result of constituent complaints last year about family members being unable to visit loved ones in person during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senate voted unanimously for the compromise measure, two weeks after the House voted for the bill.

The measure now heading to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk says visitations must be allowed to the extent that federal law permits. Compassionate care visits — such as when the patient’s relative dies — also must be allowed. State health officials would issue a $500 fine against a health care facility that violates this policy and fails to fix the problem.

The bill, called the “No Patient Left Alone Act,” marks the latest measure approved that responds to obstacles in visitor access that surfaced during the pandemic.

Cooper signed bills into law recently that would direct hospitals to let a clergy member visit a patient and tell health regulators to establish by next year visitation policies for nursing homes and adult care homes during declared emergencies.