On April 10, 2020, the New York State Department of Health issued a Health Advisory, stating “[e]ffective immediately” hospitals “are required to permit a patient support person at the patient bedside for”:
Patients for whom a support person has been determined to be essential to the care of the patient (medically necessary) including patients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and patients with cognitive impairments including dementia.
The Health Advisory continued:
… the Department considers one support person at a time as essential to patient care in the emergency room or during hospitalization. For these hospitalized patients, especially with prolonged hospitalizations, the patient or family/caregiver may designate two support people; but only one support person may be present at a time. This support person can be the patient’s family, caregiver, or another person they chose.
If you have a family member with an intellectual disability and/or developmental disability who is in a hospital at this time, or who needs to go to a hospital, you should fill out this COVID-19 Disability form. While the form is to help medical professionals if your loved one with an intellectual and/or developmental disability enters the hospital for COVID-19 symptoms, the questions are not COVID-19 specific; instead, they help the medical professionals working with your loved one understand their specific issues and needs. If you are your family members’ Guardian, you should always carry a copy of your Letters of Guardianship on your person, and bring a copy to the hospital with you. Even if you are your family member’s Guardian, you should still complete the above-referenced form, as it is meant to assist those working with your family member. In addition, be prepared to advocate to be your family member’s support person in the hospital, including providing medical staff with the New York State Department of Health’s April 10th Health Advisory that explicitly allows for support persons for individual with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
New York State Department of Health Requires Hospitals to Allow Support Persons for Patients with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities – by Alison Morris, Attorney, Cuddy Law Firm
We at the Cuddy Law Firm understand how nerve-wracking it can be to take your child or family member with special needs to the hospital at any time, and especially now. You and your loved one with special needs do have rights, and if you have any questions, we are here to assist you during this time.