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Advocates urge public support for proposed law permitting cameras in Ohio nursing homes

Proposed law sought to protect abuse
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Esther's Law
Posted at 6:00 PM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 18:28:00-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Advocates of a proposed state law that would allow placement of cameras inside rooms of nursing home residents say public support is needed to ensure passage.

Senate Bill 58, known as Esther's Law, would allow cameras to be installed in resident's rooms provided they have both the permission of the resident, or guardian as well as any roommate or assigned guardian.

Read the complete text of SB 58 here.

The camera would be clearly displayed and the nursing home would be notified of the installation.

Esther's Law is named after a 78-year-old Cleveland woman who was physically abused by nursing home aides in 2011 and has already successfully moved through a fourth Senate Committee hearing.

The abuse was caught on a hidden camera installed by her son, Steve Piskor, who has been fighting ever since to allow cameras to be installed legally so families can monitor the safety of loved ones and gained support following recent COVID-19 visiting restrictions.

"I wish I would have had this camera," said Piskor. "The chance of my mother being abused would have been very minimal."

SB 58 is sponsored by State Senator Nicki Antonio who says a companion measure, HB 78 is also sponsored by State Representative Juanita Brent.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Health Care Association that represents nursing homes across Ohio says it's working with legislators on changes in the proposed legislation to protect privacy, including turning cameras off during bathing and hygiene and blocking video of others in rooms.

"If those amendments can be included, I don't know that we would support — but we would not opposed — and at least remain neutral," said OHCA Executive Director Peter Van Runkle.

The measure required passage by the Senate before being sent to the House where it would undergo further debate.

Similar legislation was introduced last year but failed, but this time there is more optimism the measure can become law, with public support.

Nine other states have passed similar legislation allowing cameras in nursing homes, including Washington State, where state health officials report "it's really a crucial tool to catch perpetrators."

The public is urged to contact Ohio Senator Nicki Antonio's office, as well as Representative Juanita Brent, to support the legislation.

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