SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Jil Tracy’s bill addressing the heartbreaking isolation that long-term care residents faced during the COVID-19 pandemic advanced March 30 with overwhelming approval of the Illinois Senate.

Senate Bill 2322 directs the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to establish a statewide policy for visiting residents in long-term care facilities in the event of a public health emergency. Facilities would be required to inform residents of their rights to designate both a “primary essential support person” and a “secondary essential support person” of their choice. These support people would provide essential care for residents far beyond a general visit. 

“Months and months of government-ordered shutdowns left so many people alone, especially our most vulnerable residents,” said Tracy (R-Quincy). “My legislation will help support their mental and emotional health by allowing them to see designated support people, while keeping them and the facilities’ staff safe.”

Senate Bill 2322 allows residents to continue receiving essential care from their support persons despite visitation restrictions, and even under a statewide emergency. The legislation does not affect hospitals or certain care facilities where IDPH has no regulatory oversight.

“So much could have been done differently during the COVID-19 pandemic. No one should have had to be completely isolated and alone,” Tracy added. “It is my hope that Senate Bill 2322 will receive similar support in the House of Representatives and then quickly be signed into law.”

Approved by a 57-0 vote of the Illinois Senate March 30, Senate Bill 2322 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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