On April 25, 2020, the Commissioner of the Department of Health issued a very important memorandum to New Jersey Hospitals. It is important because it instructs hospitals to allow a designated support person to accompany a person with a disability who has to be hospitalized. The support person has to be someone who does not have symptoms of COVID-19. The hospital is required to screen the support person every 12 hours, and they have to stay at the hospital during their loved one’s hospitalization. They cannot leave. The hospitals are also instructed to supply Personal Protective Equipment to the support person. Hospitals are permitted, but not required, to allow a second support person.
This is extremely important. If your loved one with a disability has difficulty communicating, or is in the midst of a mental health crisis, they do not have to be alone. This is an important exception to the limitations on visitors at our hospitals.
This instruction applies to anyone with a disability that, “May be due to altered mental status, intellectual or cognitive disability, communication barriers or behavioral concerns.”
If you have a loved one with a disability who has been hospitalized, and they do not have a support person with them, contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your family member’s right to be accompanied by a support person while they are hospitalized.