CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – A new proposal could help keep an extra eye on your loved ones in nursing homes.
Senate Bill 58, called Esther’s Law, would allow families to install cameras in residents’ rooms.
But 19 investigations have found that some families are against the state bill as it is written and have questions about it.
It’s been a long struggle to get the bill this far for Steve Piskor.
A hidden camera captured a shocking video of her mother Esther’s abuse at a northeast Ohio nursing home in 2009.
The evidence sent several of the aides to jail.
Since then, Piskor has been pushing for cameras to be allowed inside nursing homes.
âWithout the camera, I wouldn’t have known the abuse was happening as much as it was,â Steve Piskor said in an interview with 19 Investigates in May 2021.
He said the pandemic made this need even more urgent.
Esther’s law was already passed by the Ohio Senate earlier this year.
Nursing home residents and their families could choose whether or not to install the cameras.
Phofina Wade, member of the local non-profit association Advocates for the Elderly, supports the idea.
Her brother Titus lives in a retirement home in Cleveland.
âIf you are in the facility, you have the right to receive the care you need. And having a camera bill or law would give families the peace of mind that they can watch their loved ones, âWade said.
But she is worried about one thing she says is missing from the state bill – a standard form used in all facilities, allowing for the installation of cameras.
âIt should be standard so everyone knows what the rules are and there are no gray areas,â Wade said.
19 Investigations found that this was previously addressed in the bill, but was amended, leaving the details of the form to the institution.
âThere could be so many things wrong with that because it’s open to interpretation of everything.
The establishments could say one thing, the family could say one thing, whereas if they are on the same wavelength with the state, everyone would know what the rules are, âshe said.
Wade said she would like to see the state health department or the Ohio Health Care Association create a standard form for each nursing home in the state to use with regards to cameras.
“There’s no point having a law on the books for this if it’s not done right,” she said.
âNot everyone can do what they want. We have to have standards for everything, and it looks like we have them for everything else except nursing homes, âWade said.
Nursing homes may display a sign alerting employees and guests that a camera is being used in the resident’s room.
If someone tampers with one of the cameras, it would be a crime.
We reached out to State Senator Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), she sponsored the bill.
âThis bill serves as a first step in protecting our most vulnerable Ohioans living in nursing homes by allowing loved ones to place a camera in their bedroom. We have worked hard to ensure that the law is permissive and not mandatory. The forms mentioned in the bill simply serve as documentation for the institution’s files, âSenator Antonio said in an email.
Regarding the questions on the forms, she replied:
âOnce the bill is passed, we can sort out any issues that arise later,â said Antonio.
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