Bill to Change Non-communicative Patient Care

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There's a push by some Nebraska parents to make sure their kids, who in some cases can't speak for themselves because of serious health issues, get increased medical monitoring while in the hospital.

Senator Russ Karpisek says Nebraska Bill 1045 could change the lives of non-communicative people across the state. That's exciting news for Teresa Stewart whose 17-year-old son, Austin, isn't a stranger to around the clock care.

"Austin got meningitis when he wasn't quite one month old, his brain hemorrhaged," said Stewart. "He was in the hospital for months and months. They didn't think he would survive it."

As a result, Stewart says her son was left neurologically devastated, suffering from epilepsy, cortical blindness, and cerebral palsy. Because of the extent of his conditions, a caretaker must be by his side 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Austin can't tell you when something is hurting or when something is wrong, he can't press a button to call a nurse," said Stewart.

But during times that Austin requires hospital care, Stewart says constant supervision isn't always there.

"There's been many times, had I not been there in the room, a serious situation could have gone from bad to worse very, very quickly," Stewart said.

Current state statutes does not require patients to be monitored. For Stewart, that's not good enough.

"It's already a stressful situation if your child is sick enough to be in the hospital already, it just would give parents like myself that extra piece of mind that we know he's getting that extra monitor," said Stewart.

That's exactly what Senator Russ Karpisek's bill would change. It calls for an increase in the minimum amount of monitoring for patients like Austin.

"Unless this child is in ICU they can't be with him every single minute, so it's important, it's imperative," said Stewart.

For parents like Stewart, a bill like this could be the difference between life and death.

"This child's life is important, he experiences joy, and there's no question in my mind that it will save lives, no question whatsoever."

There will be a hearing on the bill at the state capitol Wednesday.