Governor DeSantis Signs Key Pieces of Legislation by Senator Ileana Garcia, Supporting Vulnerable Patients and Homeless Youth Across Florida

Senator Ileana Garcia (R-Miami), Chair of the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs, today joined Governor Ron DeSantis as he signed into law Senate Bill 988, In-person Visitation, and House Bill 1577, Homeless Youth, both by Senator Garcia. SB 988 establishes the No Patient Left Alone Act to ensure patients and residents have the support of their loved ones when they need it most. HB 1577 enhances programs and services for Florida’s homeless youth.

“No Floridian should have to suffer and die alone in a hospital. We must do everything in our capacity to provide families the opportunity to care for and support their loved ones during their most difficult times, and most importantly loved ones should be given the chance to say goodbye,” said Senator Garcia. “We have seen how patients and their families suffer from isolation during COVID-19, with many Floridians missing those final crucial moments with their loved ones, and we must never allow them to experience that mistake again.”

SB 988, In-person Visitation, requires health care providers to develop visitation policies and procedures that allow for visitation to the greatest extent possible if there is a health or safety concern. The legislation also allows patients, residents and clients to designate an essential caregiver who must be allowed to visit two additional hours daily in addition to other visitation requirements. Additionally, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to post information on visitation rights on their website, and to provide a portal for individuals to report violations.

“Homeless youth face many barriers to building successful lives, and we must do all we can to ensure these Floridians do not spend their adult lives recovering from their childhood,” said Senator Garcia. “I am hopeful our efforts will help provide Floridians experiencing homelessness meaningful paths to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”

HB 1577 expands several programs for certified homeless youth, including the campus coach program to ensure success in postsecondary education, and the Keys to Independence program, which removes barriers to employment and puts youth on a path to independence. The legislation removes barriers for accessing medical and other care, requires local school districts to provide certified homeless youth with a card that includes pertinent information related to the care for which they are entitled, and expands the fee waiver exemption for birth records to certified homeless youth and foster youth who have aged out of the child welfare system.