87th Texas Legislature

After Dallas Man Dies Alone Due to COVID-19 Policy, Texas Lawmaker Proposes New Legislation

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One of the cruelest parts have the pandemic has been the end for patients and families unable to say goodbye in person.

But now, there’s a bill in Austin that would keep that from happening.

If passed, the law would honor the memory of Dallas man Roy Hayden Kinslow.

Kinslow, a 95-year-old WWII veteran, died in a rehabilitation center back in August following a battle with COVID-19 and pneumonia.

“We would speak through the telephone, thought he was going to be getting out September the 2. And then we got a phone call on the 19 of August that we needed to rush to the rehab, that he didn’t have very long to live,” said Kinslow’s daughter Suzette Kinslow Rivera.

Kinslow Rivera said her father’s decline was unexpected, but even more unexpected was the news that she and her brothers could only be with him for 15 minutes.

"I had never prayed for someone to die like I did there that day, because I knew I was going to have to leave and I didn't know how I was going to walk away,” said Kinslow Rivera.

Like so many others this past year, she spent her father’s final hours on the other side of a window.

“It doesn't matter what the pandemic is, what the situation that's going on. If you have a loved one and they're about to pass away, you should be able to be there with them and be able to hold their hand and tell them that you love them and be there in those moments,” said Kinslow Rivera.

As she dealt with her grief, Kinslow Rivera started drafting letters to lawmakers.

And last month, a silver lining came in the form of a letter from Texas State Representative Matt Krause.

It read in part:

“With your father in mind, I filed House Bill 3998 which would prevent local governments from adopting any rule at any time that would limit the amount of time individuals may spend with imminently dying members of their family… Though it does not explicitly say so currently, I plan on offering a floor amendment to the bill stating that this section of code shall be referred to as the “Roy Hayden Law” in honor of your father.”

Kinslow Rivera hopes this is just a start in providing protection for family’s suffering loss.

"Death hurts anyway. But if we can make this bill pass, and we will, but make it pass across the United States and somebody doesn't have to leave their loved one, whether they're in a bio suit or in blue jeans and a t-shirt, but get to be there in those last moments, that is the most beautiful thing and truly the only thing I could ask for in this. And I think my dad feels the same,” said Kinslow Rivera.

Kinslow died in Dallas County, where COVID-19 orders did not limit end-of-life visits, so this bill may not have made a difference in this family’s story.

NBC5 has reached out to the facility for more information about their policy.

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