collins 042021State Senator Jacqueline Collins and advocacy group leaders urged passage of her plan to require virtual visitation options at long-term care facilities in a virtual press conference Tuesday.

Collins (D-Chicago) said she’s sponsoring Senate Bill 2137 to fight the severe isolation that those in long-term care facilities have faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Collins was joined by AARP Illinois at the press conference, which was conducted via Zoom.

"We know that over the past year of this pandemic, nursing home residents have suffered beyond what is imaginable. Many have lost their friends or caregivers, and have had to live in fear for their own health and safety. Nursing homes in communities of color have been especially hard hit," Collins said. "Senate Bill 2137 offers much-needed relief to these residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to ensure that nursing homes are better equipped to protect their residents from social isolation in the long term."


SB 2137 would connect nursing home residents virtually with family members, loved ones, and to religious or recreational activities when in-person visits are prohibited or restricted due to federal or state rule or guidance.


The proposed bill comes in the wake of 2020 research that shows alarming effects associated with isolation and loneliness. Isolated seniors’ risk of developing dementia increases 50%, their risk of stroke increases 32%, and they experience a nearly fourfold increased risk of death among heart failure patients.

Under SB 2137 facilities would implement policies to fight social isolation of residents, including:

  • Virtual visitation would be considered in addition to existing in-person visitation
  • Technology and assistive equipment may be funded through federal Civil Monetary Penalty
  • (CMP) Funds and/or other state and federal resources.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and the development of a resident's individualized visitation schedule would be included in a facility’s virtual visitation policy.

Facilities would also be permitted to train volunteers and staff to assist residents in virtual visitation, and a resident’s right to use personal devices would not change. Penalties for nursing homes not in compliance would go into effect in 2023.

“Virtual visits are the next best solution to reuniting patients with their loved ones during this time, and a viable alternative to visits during COVID-19,” Collins said. “There are real health benefits to allowing virtual visitation.”

Senate Bill 2137 awaits consideration before the full Senate.