TAMPA, Fla — When the pandemic hit, Mary Daniel said restrictions no longer allowed her to visit her husband at the memory care facility he was at in Jacksonville.
"I knew I needed to get to him and that’s where the dishwasher job came in," said Daniel.
She got a job as a dishwasher at the nursing home so she could see her husband. Their love story went viral.
"Governor DeSantis saw it and when I first met with him what I asked him very simply was, 'why am I able to touch my husband as a dishwasher but not as his wife?' And he looked at me and said, I don’t know, but we need to fix that," said Daniel.
Since then Daniel has been advocating for patients' and families' rights. She even helped write the bill that the governor just signed into law called the "No Patient Left Alone Act." The new law requires hospitals, nursing homes, and healthcare facilities to allow in-person visits.
"It does follow the same protocol as staff, there are precautions we may have to do things that increase depending on what the circumstances are, but we’ll never be isolated, we’ll never be separated again," said Daniel.
However, internal medicine professor Michael Teng from USF said visitor restrictions are intended to protect the masses in an environment where sick people could get even sicker if a disease is to spread.
"Forcing them to loosen their restrictions when each hospital knows what’s best for their facility is going to cause some problems I think," said Teng.
But Daniel said she believes the new rules will allow facilities to make the right decisions for their patients.
"I’m really proud that it's become an all-encompassing bill that will keep your family members safe and also allow us to be with them," said Daniel.