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Legislation protecting family visits to nursing homes wins overwhelming support in Illinois

Bill in response to limitations placed on family visits to nursing homes during peak COVID-19 transmission periods.

Published: March 12, 2022 11:37am

Updated: March 12, 2022 10:54pm

(The Center Square) -

Family visits to nursing homes in Illinois were limited during peak COVID-19 transmission periods in 2020 and 2021 and some are looking to make sure that doesn’t happen again, even if there is a pandemic.

The visitation prohibitions frustrated relatives and friends who were kept away from loved ones at nursing homes and long-term care facilities for weeks and even months. To prevent future Illinois governors from ever enacting such a ban again, Illinois Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, drafted Senate Bill 1405. The measure passed the Illinois Senate unanimously last month and is expected to pass the Illinois House this spring.

State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Cherry Valley, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the ban defied common sense – even when the pandemic was raging and vaccines were not available.

“A lot of families were angry and put out,” Syverson told The Center Square. “People should never have had to die alone when their family members wanted to be there with them.”

Syverson said people with cognitive disabilities and dementia suffered unnecessarily because they felt abandoned by their loved ones. Residents wound up dying alone – cut off from the presence and consolation of their closest life companions.

“You had seniors who saw their families either every day or every week, and they could not understand why their family was not coming to visit them,” he said.

The state should not step in to keep people from being with their loved ones, Syverson said.

“That is inhumane,” Syverson said. “It never had to happen.”

To Syverson, the ban on visitors never made sense.

“There were employees going in and out,” he said. “There were vendors coming and going. But you could not have a loved one go in to see a family member – even when the person was dying.”

People are still angry that the state denied them time with their family members that they can never get back, Syverson said.

“Members on all sides were hearing from their constituents … hearing from facilities that were taking the brunt of the complaints,” Syverson said. “The governor dictated those rules, and it never should have happened.”

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