– Legislation sponsored by House Health Committee Majority Chair Kathy Rapp (R-Warren/Crawford/Forest) that would safely allow family members to visit long-term care facilities as essential caregivers for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens (House Bill 649
) was signed into law today as Act 67 of 2021.
“As almost anyone familiar with this issue is fully aware, it has been well over a year since the governor and his former Secretary of Health completely closed the majority of Pennsylvania’s long-term care facilities to visits from friends and family,” said Rapp. “Without question one of the ongoing and heartbreaking tragedies of the COVID-19 epidemic are the thousands of nursing home and long-term care facility patients who were forced to die alone in isolation and never received the opportunity to say goodbye to those who cared for them the most. Now, thanks to this essential caregiver legislation becoming law, Pennsylvania will soon have the necessary protocols in place to end this prolonged separation that is severely impacting the overall health and emotional well-being of our most vulnerable citizens.”
Mirroring regulations already successfully implemented in Minnesota and Indiana, Act 67 will amend the Pennsylvania Health Care Facilities Act to allow a designated essential family caregiver to be named for each resident of a licensed long-term care facility during a declaration of disaster emergency.
“Act 67 is all about restoring the irreplaceable element of family to the daily routines and overall care of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Rapp. “By following the example of Indiana and Minnesota in implementing successful essential caregiver programs, our departments of health and human services can now establish screening protocols and other additional safeguards to allow family members to take an even more active role in the long-term care and support of their loved ones.”