A general hospital which has had an average of 20% or more of its beds vacant on weekends over a six month period may apply to the Commissioner of Health for permission to establish a hospital respite care program for senior citizens. Under such a program, otherwise empty hospital facilities, in a section separate from medical and surgical patients, shall be used to provide shelter, food, recreation and supervision to senior citizens age 65 or older who are ordinarily dependent upon family members or others for their care. The purpose of the hospital respite care program is to provide quality care to the elderly while enabling those who ordinarily care for an elderly person to be temporarily relieved of the stress of this responsibility. A hospital having an overall vacancy rate in excess of 20% over a six month period may also apply to the commissioner for permission to offer this service on weekdays for periods determined by the commissioner.
L. 1986, c. 11, s. 1.