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Bill allowing cameras in nursing home rooms heads to DeWine’s desk

The bill is aimed at preventing abuse.
Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 5:40 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The Ohio Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill allowing the families of nursing home residents the option to place cameras inside the rooms of their loved ones.

Esther’s Law, which now heads to the desk of Gov. Mike DeWine, is aimed at preventing abuse.

It comes ten years after northern Ohio resident Steve Piskor witnessed a nursing home aid grab his mother, Esther, and toss her on a wheelchair. Piskor was only able to see the abuse because of a surveillance camera in the room at the time.

“It is our duty to ensure the health and safety of senior citizens,” State Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) said. “Allowing residents in long-term care facilities to put cameras in their rooms will help to deter theft and abuse, as well as give residents and their families peace of mind. The passage of Esther’s Law is one step to upholding the Ohio Promise of being able to live, work, and retire with safety and security.”

At least 10 states have similar laws. In others, proposals have failed largely due to privacy concerns.

“If you want some privacy, just don’t put a camera in,” Piskor told our sister station in Toledo earlier this year. “If I could’ve given up my mother’s privacy rights for her not to get abused, I would’ve done it in a heartbeat.”

The bill does not require electronic monitoring devices in all rooms. The devices must be authorized by the resident, the resident’s guardian, or an attorney.

Those same parties, not the nursing home, are responsible for the cost of installing, maintaining and removing the device.

A resident living in rooms with another resident must obtain permission from their co-resident to install the device. If the co-resident refuses, the nursing home must make a reasonable attempt to accommodate the first resident’s wishes by moving either resident, with their permission, to another available room.

A co-resident can accept the installation of a device but still place conditions on the use of the device, including that it must be pointed away from them.

Nursing homes are allowed to post notice outside a room with a device installed.

The only people able to view the footage are the resident, the resident’s guardian, the resident’s attorney, or someone authorized by those three to view the footage. Law enforcement is also entitled to view the footage.

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