Rights of Hospital Patients with Developmental Disabilities During COVID-19

Last month, the New York State Department of Health released guidelines around hospital visitation restrictions necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

On April 10, an update was provided, affirming the right of persons with developmental disabilities to have a direct support professional or family member present at the hospital. Below, you will find an overview of the Department of Health’s statement. To learn more and ask questions, please visit the Department of Health’s COVID-19 web page here.

What You Need To Know:

  • Individuals with developmental disabilities may have one family member or support staff accompany them to the emergency room and during hospitalizations.
  • Hospital staff will explain the potential risks of having an additional person present during treatment before asking patients to designate who will be providing support during their treatment.
  • If an individual with a developmental disability is undergoing an extended hospital stay, they may be allowed to designate two people who can provide support during their stay. However, only one support person may be present at any time.
  • All support staff will be screened for coronavirus before entering the hospital, as well as temperature checked every 12 hours.
  • All hospitals should have clear protocols for communicating with family members or caregivers when a support person is not by the bedside. This may be done through remote methods such as phone calls or video calls.
  • When entering the hospital, support personnel should be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Support personnel may be asked to remain in the participant’s room until they exit the building.

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