ACTION ALERT: Please Ask Legislators to OPPOSE HB983, Which Places Severe Restrictions on Visitors to Nursing Homes

Text of HB983
Nursing Homes - Covid-19 - Visitation

 Requiring the Maryland Department of Health to develop certain guidelines relating to the restrictions on personal and compassionate care visitation that a nursing home may impose to reduce the spread of COVID-19; requiring the guidelines to include a requirement that nursing homes allow visitation by certain visitors, restrict certain visitors to designated areas, require visitors to follow certain safety protocols, require the use of personal protective equipment, require social distancing and other appropriate protocols; etc.

 
Why ICM Opposes HB983

  • HB983 dictates that “compassionate care visitors” to nursing home residents may only visit their loved ones when they comply with specific requirements defined by the state, which may include testing for Covid-19, checking for body temperature, health screenings, the use of personal protective equipment, social distancing, and any other safety protocol that the Maryland Department of Health deems necessary to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in nursing homes. This language allows a state agency to dictate compliance with any yet-undefined protocol in the future, including Covid-19 vaccination.

 

  • In particular, there is mounting evidence that PCR testing is a wholly unreliable tool for identifying active, contagious cases of Covid-19; the test could have up to 70-90% false positive rates. The premise that use of standard cloth surgical masks prevents transmission is similarly dubious. And there is no compelling evidence that the Covid-19 vaccines currently authorized for use prevent transmission of the virus. Most importantly, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not prisons; residents have the fundamental human right to convene with other human beings and assume responsibility for the risk of contracting any contagious illness. All residents are free to engage in the protective measures and level of isolation they personally feel is appropriate to the degree of risk they choose to tolerate – whether to assume the risk of human contact, especially with loved ones, is a personal decision which should not be transferred to state institutions or bureaucrats.

 

  • There is mounting evidence that extreme containment measures such as those imposed by this bill don’t lead to better outcomes. Increasingly, data reflect that states with stricter lock-down measures have not had improved outcomes over states with more flexible and/or targeted guidelines.

 

  • The bill allows healthcare professionals to determine whether visitation with any family member or other individual is “necessary for the resident’s mental, physical or social well-being.” This would grossly violate the human rights of assisted living facility residents to determine whom they may contact and the level of risk they choose to maintain their own physical, mental, and social well-being. Nursing care facilities are not prisons, and their residents are not criminals.

 

  • The bill allows nursing care facilities to limit each resident to one designated visitor only, as well as restricted frequency and length of visits. This is grossly inappropriate, cruel, and unnecessary in controlling the spread of Covid-19.

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Who to Contact About this Bill
Please call the offices of the Health and Government Operations Committee members:

 

Bagnall, Heather 410-841-3406 | 301-858-3406
Barron, Erek L. 410-841-3692 | 301-858-3692
Bhandari, Harry 410-841-3526 | 301-858-3526
Carr, Alfred C., Jr. 410-841-3638 | 301-858-3638
Charles, Nick 410-841-3707 | 301-858-3707
Chisholm, Brian 410-841-3206 | 301-858-3206
Cullison, Bonnie 410-841-3883 | 301-858-3883
Hill, Terri L. 410-841-3378 | 301-858-3378
Johnson, Steve 410-841-3280 | 301-858-3280
Kelly, Ariana B. 410-841-3642 | 301-858-3642
Kerr, Ken 410-841-3240 | 301-858-3240
Kipke, Nicholaus 410-841-3421 | 301-858-3421
Krebs, Susan W. 410-841-3200 | 301-858-3200
Lewis, Robbyn 410-841-3772 | 301-858-3772
Morgan, Matthew 410-841-3170 | 301-858-3170
Pena-Melnyk, Joseline 410-841-3502 | 301-858-3502
Pendergrass, Shane E. 410-841-3139 | 301-858-3139
Reilly, Teresa E. 410-841-3278 | 301-858-3278
Rosenberg, Samuel I. 410-841-3297 | 301-858-3297
Saab, Sid 410-841-3551 | 301-858-3551
Sample-Hughes, Sheree 410-841-3427 | 301-858-3427
Szeliga, Kathy 410-841-3698 | 301-858-3698
Young, Karen Lewis 410-841-3436 | 301-858-3436

Please spread the word! Let’s flood Delegate Lehman's office and the HGO committee members with polite, respectful, forceful emails and phone calls. They need to hear our voices!

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