State Representative Dan Fox (D-Stamford) hailed the unanimous House passage of a measure updating state regulations relating to hospice care in Connecticut, the first such reform in at least 35 years. The legislation now moves to the State Senate.
HB 5499 moves to expand the opportunities for smaller community-based hospices to operate in Connecticut and gives smaller hospice facilities across the state the ability to provide high quality services, while allowing patients to stay close to friends and family. Currently, there are just two licensed hospices in the state.
“The bill facilitates the creation of hospices that offer both inpatient and home-based hospice services. The state has two residential hospices regulated under provisions that date to the 1970s using a model equivalent to the regulation of skilled nursing homes,” said Rep. Fox. “Today's needs have changed and this bill encourages the move toward new regulations that will allow the addition of smaller, more home-like residential models that will serve many more areas of the state.”
Stamford’s Rosenthal Hospice closed in December 2011. A challenge encountered by Rosenthal Hospice was the difficulty of a 12-bed community based hospice adhering to regulations enacted for much larger facilities
“Our family members, our friends, our neighbors and our constituents should have access to facilities whose primary purpose is hospice care within or in close proximity to the communities that they call home," said Rep. Fox. “Stamford lost its own Rosenthal Hospice after over a decade of service. This bill starts the process of access to local hospice service.”
“I am a fervent believer that every family should have access to high quality hospice care when the time comes to say goodbye to their loved ones," said State Representative Lonnie Reed (D-Branford). "I started out as an opponent of this bill, fearing it would lead to diluted regulations and substandard care; but I applaud the fine work done by Public Health Committee members to improve this bill and I welcome reassurances from the Department of Public Health that it will insist upon excellent hospice care from providers throughout the state." Rep. Reed's district includes the Connecticut Hospice, the first in the nation hospice care facility.
The bill also assures that no invasive procedures will be performed on a patient at a hospice facility and that the Department of Public Health maintains oversight of hospice facilities.