Bill expanding long-term care visitation moves to House

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers moved forward Thursday with a proposal to change visitation restrictions at the state’s health and residential care sites amid concerns about residents’ declining interactions with loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic.

The measure approved by the Indiana Senate would require health facilities to allow at least one caretaker to visit a resident during compassionate care situations. Those include if the resident is dying, grieving a recent death, experiencing emotional distress or needing encouragement to eat or drink.

Under the bill, long-term care facilities would also be required to participate in the state health department’s Essential Family Caregivers Program during a declared emergency, a public health emergency, or similar crisis.

That program further designates at least two caregivers who can enter facilities and provide residents with support like meal set up, grooming and general companionship, even during periods of restricted visitation. While some facilities in Indiana currently participate in the program, not all do.

Bill author Republican Sen. Linda Rogers said the plan is critical to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of those in long-term care.

“I’ve heard from many across the state about how lack of visitation shortened their loved ones’ lives,” Rogers said. “If you allow (medical staff) to go from facility to facility, what difference is it for a family member ... who uses the same PPE ... to visit their loved one?”

The measure now heads to the House.

Man gets 22 years for pulling gun on officer

ALBION — A northeastern Indiana man who was shot by a police officer he pulled a gun on during a 2019 domestic disturbance has been sentence to 22 1/2 years in prison.

Faustino Jesus Vasquez, 29, was sentenced by a Noble County judge after pleading guilty to a felony count of pointing a firearm. The Fort Wayne man received a 2 1/2-year sentence on that count.

But as part of Vasquez’s plea agreement a sentencing enhancement added another 20 years to his sentence during Monday’s hearing, The (Kendallville) News-Sun reported.

In November 2019, a Kendallville police office was responding to a domestic call at a mobile home park when Vasquez drew a handgun and pointed it at the officer, prosecutors said.

The officer drew his weapon and fired, striking Vasquez at least twice before taking cover and calling for police backup and medical assistance.

Vasquez drew a gun and pointed it at Kendallville Officer Doug Davis during a Nov. 22, 2019, domestic disturbance call at a Kendallville mobile home park.

Vasquez was hospitalized for weeks before being charged with felony counts of carrying a handgun without a license and pointing a firearm. Under his plea, the handgun charge was dropped.

An investigation of the police-involved shooting by Indiana State Police and prosecutors determined that the officer acted appropriately in self-defense in the incident.

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