Gov. Hutchinson signs ‘No Patient Left Alone’ into law; families reunite in hospitals, healthcare facilities

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Families are reuniting with their loved ones in hospitals and nursing homes. For some, after more than a year of separation due to COVID-19.

Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed the ‘No Patient Left Alone Act’ into law, requiring hospitals and healthcare facilities to allow one visitor per patient back inside.

It is all smiles for Laurie Hoyer after getting her first visitor in her nursing home in over a year.

On the other side of the camera in the photo above is her cousin and only family member left, Chris May.

“We put puzzles together and it was just amazing,” May said. “I think for our mental health- both of us- it was really really good.”

The bill was sponsored by State Rep. Julie Mayberry (R-District 27) who said these reunions made her work was worthwhile.

“To see people send me pictures and to see people posting friends and family that they haven’t been able to see in a year and they’re being reunited, it was just wonderful to see.”

One of those people being Nicole Whipkey. She was able to reunite with her husband for the first time in months.

“He had a smile on his face I hadn’t seen in almost a year,” Whipkey said. “I felt like I was going on a first date.”

Whipkey’s husband has cancer and has been in a Veterans home for over a year. Whipkey said he has struggled not only physically but mentally from the isolation.

“Of course we have this pandemic, we don’t know what’s going to happen, but we need our person,” she said. “Even you need your person.”

Whipkey said she is now scheduling in-person visits with her husband on a weekly basis.

“To be able to hug him, to reassure him that we weren’t gonna let this happen to anybody was the greatest thing in the world.”

Mayberry encourages Arkansans to be patient as word gets to each healthcare facility and hospital.

If you are still not able to get access into the long term care facility, Mayberry said to reach out first to your ombudsman. If this does not work, call the state’s Long Term Care Complaint Hotline at 1-800-582-4887.

“Please remember, that this act does not bring things back to the pre-COVID-19 days,” Mayberry said. “We passed a minimum threshold and we hope that as more people are vaccinated, and as cases decrease, that visitation in the hospital and long-term care facilities will  be back to usual standards.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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