Jacksonville advocate pushes for the ‘No Patient Left Alone Act’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Floridians in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities would be guaranteed the right to have visitors under legislation nearing the finish line in the Florida Legislature.

One of the leading advocates pushing for the bill is Jacksonville local Mary Daniel, who garnered national attention early in the pandemic when she was told she couldn’t see her husband who has Alzheimer’s.

In 2020 Mary was told she couldn’t see her husband Steve, who resides at a local assisted living facility, due to COVID protocols.

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“When the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months, I started getting very vocal,” said Mary.

Mary found the only way she could see her husband, was by getting a job at the facility as a dishwasher.

“And went to see him right after my first shift. It had been 114 days since I had hugged him,” said Mary.

But something still didn’t feel right.

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“If I can touch him as a dishwasher, why can’t I touch him as his wife?” said Mary.

Mary helped advocate for the opening of nursing homes and ALFs throughout the pandemic.

She’s now advocating for legislation that would help ensure no one else will have to be separated from their loved one due to public health protocols.

The ‘No Patient Left Alone Act’ moving in both chambers of the Florida Legislature would require hospitals, nursing homes and ALF’s to allow for visitation with physical touch so long as the visitors adhere to the same health precautions as staff..

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“So many residents literally died alone, family members watching them die through a window. We have to be sure that that doesn’t happen again,” said Mary.

The legislation also has the support of the industry.

“We all recognize just how important visitation is to our residents’ emotional well-being and their quality of life,” said Kristen Knapp with the Florida Health Care Association in a written statement.

The legislation is ready for a floor vote in the House and is expected to be brought up in its final Senate committee Monday evening.

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