Connecticut Modifies COVID-19 No-Visitor Policy

Daniela Doncel
June 09, 2020 - 4:32 pm

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTIC Radio) - The State of Connecticut is issuing a new statewide policy that will allow people with disabilities to have one designated support person with them while getting treatment in a health care facility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the state came to a resolution resulting in the new policy after a formal discrimination complaint was filed against the state.

Several national and Connecticut-based disability organizations filed the complaint in an effort to ensure equal access to medical care during the pandemic, according to OCR Director Roger Severino who announced the resolution Tuesday.

The state's policy on visitor restrictions in health care facilities prevented patients with disabilities who need support from family members to communicate effectively with medical staff, Severino said, since those family members were not allowed to stay with the patient while getting treatment in the hospital.

Though Severino agreed preventative measures are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, he said it's also important for people with disabilities to have equal access to health care.

"And equal access to health care often means a reasonable modification to allow a support person to be there to help them with communication," Severino said. 

Connecticut's new policy addresses the issue by requiring all hospitals and other health care facilities to allow disabled patients to have a designated support person. It also includes policies to protect the support person from COVID-19 infection such as providing screenings and personal protective equipment.

Severino said this resolution sets a precedent for other states to ensure policies comply with federal disability laws by raising public awareness.

The new policy takes effect June 15.