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OP-ED: From the editor: A look at Proposition 6 (SJR 19)

“The constitutional amendment establishing a right for residents of certain facilities to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation.”

This is a result of the COVID Crisis which prevented loved ones from visiting nursing homes to see their loved ones. For many residents of such facilities, it took a toll on them both mentally and physically when they could not see their loved ones.

The amendment was introduced in response to restrictions put in place in March 2020 as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. On March 15, 2020, Texas Health and Human Services Commission ordered nursing facilities to prohibit non-essential visitors from accessing facilities. At that time, the order applied to 1,222 licensed and regulated nursing facilities serving about 90,000 residents and an additional 2,000 assisted living facilities in Texas, according to ballotpedia.org.

State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R) wrote in the amendment’s “Statement of Intent” that “these restrictions had a significant impact on the physical and mental well-being of many residents, especially those with memory or cognitive challenges.”

The measure would amend Article 1 of the state constitution by adding this new section:

Sec. 35.(a) A resident of a nursing facility, assisted living facility, intermediate care facility for individuals with an intellectual disability, residence providing home and community-based services, or state supported living center, as those terms are defined by general law, has the right to designate an essential caregiver with whom the facility, residence, or center may not prohibit in-person visitation.

(b) Notwithstanding Subsection (a) of this section, the legislature by general law may provide guidelines for a facility, residence, or center described by Subsection (a) of this section to follow in establishing essential caregiver visitation policies and procedures.

A “yes” vote supports amending the state constitution to establish a right for residents of nursing or assisted living facilities to designate an essential caregiver, who cannot be prohibited from in-person visitation.

A “no” vote opposes amending the state constitution to establish a right for residents of nursing or assisted living facilities to designate an essential caregiver, who cannot be prohibited from in-person visitation.

“Visiting a loved one in a nursing home should be a right, not a privilege,” State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R) said. “If another health emergency occurs, our state’s caregivers will always have a way to safely go inside a facility for scheduled visits and ensure that their loved one’s physical, social, and emotional needs are being met.”

This proposition will be on the ballot during the November 2, 2021 election.

 

Dawn Burleigh is general manager and editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com