House Passes Bill That Ensures Patients Are Allowed Access To Both Family And Clergy Amid A Pandemic

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COLUMBUS, OH -- State Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) announced House Bill 324, also known as “Shirley and Wilma’s Law,” has passed out of the Ohio House. The bill ensures that patients are allowed access to both family and clergy amid a pandemic such as COVID-19. Lipps spoke to the bill on the House floor.

“Our goal here is not to open hospital doors with unfettered access to patients without regard for health and safety,” Lipps said. “We simply wish to draw attention to the fact that companionship plays a significant role in mental and physical health. We don’t want there to be hundreds more stories like Shirley and Wilma’s. There is some middle ground here.”

Sadly, Shirley and Wilma both passed away during the pandemic while having to go without the companionship of certain family and clergy attention during their hospital stays.

Lipps notes the legislation allows for hospital visitations during a public health emergency by establishing criteria for those types of visits including:

  • Requiring screening of visitors for symptoms before entering the facility;
  • Prohibit entry to visitors displaying or disclosing symptoms of a certain disease;
  • Require visitors to visit the patient in their room and to limit movement throughout the facility;
  • Require visitors to wear PPE, perform frequent hand hygiene, maintain physical distancing and follow other reasonable safety precautions;
  • Provide visitors with information and warnings about the transmission of the disease; and
  • Limit the number of visitors seeing a patient at one time and not allowing hospitals to count a clergy person towards any limit on the number of visitors permitted to see a patient at one time.

“We cannot stand idly by while our loved ones are passing away in a cold, empty hospital room. I believe it is a human right to spend your final moments surrounded by the people most important to you,” Lipps added.

The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

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