The Epoch Times

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—Florida is determined to protect the rights of patients in nursing homes and hospitals, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Feb. 2.

After a press conference about an $89 million investment in workforce education, DeSantis said legislation was being drafted to combat an alarming trend around his state and across the county—restrictions on families visiting loved ones. 

DeSantis, a Republican up for reelection this year, was asked by The Epoch Times about a comment he made on Twitter on Jan. 21 referring to legislation being drafted “to protect the rights of patients to have loved ones visit.” 

Throughout the pandemic, families around the country have faced varying levels of restriction when it comes to visiting relatives. 

And when they’ve challenged hospital policies blocking visits, some have been arrested, attorneys consulted by the families have told The Epoch Times.

What you’ll see over the next couple of weeks is a package develop that’s going to have protections for hospitalized patients, DeSantis said. 

Florida lawmakers are working in Tallahassee as part of their regular legislative session, which runs through March 11.

The governor did not provide specific details, and spokespersons for both the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate said they weren’t aware of bills filed on the topic yet.

“When COVID first started, they locked all the hospitals down … but what happened was, this dragged on for months and months,” DeSantis said.

“You had people in the hospital that didn’t have access to their loved ones … that had huge negative consequences for so many families throughout our country.”

“And one of the rights, I think, of being a patient is that you have your loved ones present when you’re dealing with these serious medical issues. And it’s not just [at] end of life.”

Restricting family visits to patients in hospitals often is a “vain attempt to say that we’re stopping COVID through these policies,” DeSantis said. “There’s nothing wrong with [hospitals] having certain protocols, but shutting the door on people is unacceptable.”

“This idea that people should just be isolated, and that’s the way to keep people healthy, is ridiculous. And it’s failed.”

The governor responded to another reporter’s question about the recent legal battle between Mayo Clinic Florida and the family of COVID-19 patient hospitalized there, Dan Pisano.

When Pisano was worsening and on a ventilator, his family filed a lawsuit seeking to try medications used in a treatment protocol developed by the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC).

It was a protocol that could save him, even in his declining condition, an outside doctor testified in court.

But attorneys for Mayo Clinic fought vigorously to avoid giving the treatment and the family’s petition was denied, then denied again on appeal. Pisano passed in January.

Claudia Pisano filed a lawsuit, aiming to try to save the life of her husband of 51 years, Daniel, by asking a judge to order Mayo Clinic to allow treatment with ivermectin.

Independent doctors around the country laud the FLCCC protocols as proven and successful in the treatment of COVID-19

Doctors say they’ve faced a backlash, including threats of revoking their licenses to practice medicine, when word gets out they’re prescribing the regimen, which includes the use of ivermectin.

There’s a whole host of these medications that people want to try in the treatment of COVID-19, DeSantis said.

And while it’s not clear how effective they are, he added, the decision of what to use should be left up to patients and their physicians.

“Why you would deny somebody that?” DeSantis asked. “Let’s let people make these decisions for themselves.”

When “physicians think that it could be helpful you have a right to try, especially for people that are in serious situations.”

Doctors shouldn’t have to worry about being penalized for prescribing drugs they think will work, he added.

“Using drugs off-label is something that’s been done for years and years and years. And they need to have an ability to do that, and patients have need to have the ability to access that.”

Ivermectin, a drug formulated for both animals and humans, has been used around the world to treat parasite infections and viral infections for decades.

But even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it for some maladies, the drug has not been approved for use in treating COVID-19.

Using it in that way would be considered an “off-label” use.

It is, however, currently in clinical trials for use as a treatment of COVID-19.

The FDA did not comment on drug trials that are ongoing, a spokesman for the agency told The Epoch Times.

Studies about the safety and efficacy of using ivermectin in the treatment for COVID-19 have led to 22 countries approving its use, or partial use.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shared this tweet Aug. 21, 2021 mocking the use of the drug ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19.