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Autopsy Report: Long-Term Care Visitation Rights

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Despite Gov. Greg Abbott’s March announcement that he was “opening Texas 100 percent,” Mary Nichols of Texas Caregivers for Compromise says Texas isn’t fully open because Texans are still restricted from being with their family members in long-term care facilities.

Nichols discusses what the Texas Legislature did about this in the regular session and how concerns about staffing, emergency power, and holding these facilities accountable need to be addressed in upcoming special sessions.

“The governor keeps saying Texas is 100 percent open. It’s like those 120,000 people in long-term care don’t exist,” Nichols told Texas Scorecard. “As long as visitation is still restricted, and as long as people in long-term care still are not fully restored all their rights, then Texas is not fully open.”

She’s referring to Abbott’s executive order, in effect since March 2020, restricting visitations to long-term care facilities. Nichols then noted that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) set July 6 as their end date for emergency orders. “We don’t have that in Texas just yet.”

Nichols recalls the “extraordinary loss” that resulted from these restrictions. “There was loss for those people who never saw their loved ones again, and there were many of those,” she said. “There’s also another kind of loss, and that is a lot of people, once they did finally get in to see their loved ones, that loved one was not the same person that they left.”

“Part of that is due to the natural progression of their disease, but part of that is also due to those people who suffer from that rapid cognitive decline, that extreme weight loss, and that despondency,” she continued. “Some of them lost that little bit of memory of their loved ones they had left, so once they saw them again, [they] did not know them

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