Legislator Wants to Ensure Long-Term Care Residents Have Right to Clergy Visitation

Legislator Wants to Ensure Long-Term Care Residents Have Right to Clergy Visitation

By Corinne Murdock |

State Representative Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott) introduced HB2449, a bill to ensure that long-term care facility residents have a right to visitation from clergymen. According to the bill, a care facility must allow clergy visitation if they allow any in-person visitation of any kind, even during a state of emergency. Additionally, care facilities must allow clergy visitation when a patient’s death is imminent and either the patient or their representative requests the visit. The bill covered any health concerns by allowing care facilities to impose health and safety precautions on clergymen, and barring visitors from holding the care facility liable for contracting any communicable diseases during their visit. 

If a care facility denies clergy visitation, the requestor or religious organization would have the right to take legal action against the facility. The legislation would apply to assisted living centers, facilities, and homes; hospice; and institutions that provide nursing care or residential care. 

Nguyen hearkened back to the restrictive visitation protocols imposed for the better part of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced severe isolation upon the hospitalized and elderly. In a statement, Nguyen insisted that one’s spiritual health bears equal importance to physical health. 

“Some of the restrictive visitation policies put in place by facilities during the coronavirus pandemic ended up having consequences far beyond that of protecting patient health,” said Nguyen. “Onerous restrictions detrimentally separated patients from their families, clergy, and others for long periods. For many, spiritual care is as important as health care. It must also be accommodated when providing comfort and support for patients in long-term care facilities. My bill will help ensure that it is.”

Sweeping visitation bans on care facilities led to the rapid physical and mental decline of residents, with families nationwide reporting observations of their loved ones declining rapidly in their “COVID Isolation” and dying of loneliness, broken hearts, and neglect.

The bill attracted nearly all House Republicans as cosponsors with the exception of State Representatives Tim Dunn (R-Yuma), Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley), John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills), Joanne Osborne (R-Goodyear), and Michelle Udall (R-Mesa).

There were several senators who signed on as cosponsors as well: State Senators Paul Boyer (R-Glendale) and Sine Kerr (R-Buckeye). 

Nguyen’s bill has yet to be considered by the legislature. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.