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Mylissa’s Law Would Guarantee Hospital Visits for Loved Ones

Perry Bennett/ WV Legislature
Perry Bennett/ WV Legislature
Wesley Smith (right) lost his wife Mylissa to COVID-19. The legislature is considering a law in her memory.

COVID-19 precautions have kept many hospital and nursing home patients from seeing their loved ones in person. A bill in the West Virginia Legislature would require health providers to admit visitors, even during a pandemic.

House Bill 2368, or Mylissa Smith’s Law, commemorates a hospice nurse in Kanawha County that died last year after contracting COVID-19.

During four weeks in the hospital, she was not allowed a single visitor. Smith was 53 when she died.

Republican Del. Dean Jeffries of Kanawha County sponsored the bill.

“It will never return days that should have been spent comforting loved ones,” he said. “We can only pray that going forward we have done all we can so that humanity is preserved for those in need in such times.”

The bill would require hospitals and other providers to allow visitors to see any patient who could potentially die. All other patients are guaranteed visitation at least once every five days. This measure only impacts times when there is a public health emergency because of a contagious disease. It also limits providers’ liability if a visitor becomes exposed to a disease.

House delegates approved the bill unanimously. It now heads to the Senate.

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