Bill giving local control to Illinois nursing homes for visitation policies advances | Illinois

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(The Center Square) – As hundreds of Illinois families lost loved ones in long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic without being allowed to say goodbye, legislation that would change that is poised for the governor.  

Senate Bill 1405 passed the Illinois House Monday and aims to protect residents from visitation restrictions in the event of another disaster proclamation.  

Gov. J.B. Pritzker banned nursing home visits in March 2020. The COVID-19 virus ravaged nursing homes in Illinois, with more than 77,000 cases and more than 10,000 deaths.

State Rep. Charles Meier, R-Okawville, said family members should be allowed to be present for a loved one’s final moments.

“To hold their hand, to say that final good-bye, that is what this bill is about,” Meier said. “It is not about fighting the governor’s power. It is so that these families can have their loved ones die with dignity.”

State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Champaign, said the governor should be allowed to outlaw visits.

“The governor has to have the ability and the authority to make the decisions that are in the best interest of all the people of the state, and in this case this will usurp that authority,” Ammons said. 

The bill would not impact guidelines, conditions or limitations of a facility’s visitation policy.

Legislation was introduced last year that would have required nursing homes to provide video conferencing equipment for virtual visits. Nursing homes raised concerns about the costs of buying assistive technology, and training and devoting staff to help residents with Zoom calls and other communication.

The bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Chris Bos, R-Lake Zurich, said the state has to learn from mistakes made during the pandemic.

“If we don’t take the steps now moving forward to look back and make adjustments where we need to make adjustments like this bill so family members are not dying alone, shame on us,” Bos said. 



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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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