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Nevada Legislature sends CARE Act to Sandoval

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Assembly give final legislative approval Thursday to a measure designed to help those who provide care to friends and loved ones after they are released from the hospital.

Senate Bill 177, known as the CARE Act, would allow a patient or guardian to designate a caregiver upon admission to a hospital.

It would require the hospital to keep that caregiver informed when a patient is being discharged or moved to another facility. It also would ask hospitals to provide instruction for care needed at home and offer resources when questions arise.

The bill passed unanimously in both the Senate and Assembly and now goes to Gov. Brian Sandoval for his signature.

Supporters confident that Sandoval will sign the bill, which received no opposition at legislative hearings. The governor rarely indicates his support for bills until they reach his desk.

In testimony before health and human services committees, supporters said that too often at-home caregivers are left out of the loop when patients are discharged. Elderly patients can get confused over how to take medications, or caregivers are not provided training on such things as how to assist patients who are in wheelchairs to change bandages.

In written testimony, Dr. Lisa Rosenberg, geriatrics director at Roseman University of Health Sciences in Las Vegas, said an at-home caregiver’s level of preparation often is all that stands between an older adult getting to stay home or returning to the hospital.

“On several levels, this much-needed legislation is a good investment in caring for older frail adults and their caregivers, reducing hospital readmissions and associated costs, reducing morbidity, and saving lives,” Rosenberg said.

AARP, a prime backer of the bill, estimated more than 500,000 family caregivers in Nevada provide services worth $4 billion.

The organization said a recent survey of Nevadans age 45 and older found 70 percent of caregivers performed medical and nursing tasks — from giving medications and administering intravenous fluids to dressing wounds and operating specialized equipment.

Barry Gold, with AARP Nevada, said provisions in the bill “will help caregivers provide better care and in the process may help avoid a return trip to the hospital or worse.”

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901. Find her on Twitter: @SandraChereb.

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