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Lorain family worried new Esther's Law is not being followed

Family wants camera in father's nursing home room
Lorain family concerned new Esther's Law is not being followed
Posted at 10:09 PM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 23:10:31-04

LORAIN, Ohio — Myrta Escalera of Lorain and her family are hoping to use Ohio's new Esther's Law to place a fixed lens video camera in her father's room at a northeast Ohio nursing home, but said legal documents from the nursing home have created some concerns.

Esther's Law, which went into effect on March 23, gives families the option of placing a wireless video camera in the rooms of their loved ones for a peace of mind and further assurance their loved one is getting proper care.

Escalera was concerned the electronic monitoring authorization form she was given contained a release of liability clause that she's worried could prevent her from using the camera video in a civil lawsuit, if the camera captured alleged abuse of her father in the future.

News 5 is not naming the nursing involved in this case as it continues to work with the Escalera family in assuring them the release of liability is only related to privacy violations in connection with the cameras use.

"It is very frustrating," Escalera said. "I only wanted to go in and put the camera on, that’s it. I didn’t expect it to be so hard just to put a camera in my dad’s room. I just want them to clarify a few things that are on the form so I’ll be able to sign it."

The effort to create Esther's Lawstarted when Steve Piskor used a hidden camera to record the abuse of his mother Esther at an Ohio nursing home in 2011. After the incident, Piskor spent the next 10 years getting the proposed legislation before lawmakers at the Statehouse in Columbus—an effort that was the subject of a series of award-winning reportsby News 5 Chief Investigator Ron Regan.

Lorain family concerned new Esther's Law is not being followed
Steve Piskor fought to make Esther's Law a reality after taking video of his mother Esther being abused at an Ohio nursing home in 2011

Piskor told News 5 about reports that a few Ohio nursing homes are allegedly not in compliance with the new law by requesting the use of improper cameras, unfairly charging families hundreds of dollars for camera installation, and presenting families with legal requirements that are outside the scope of the law.

“There’s only a select few that are trying to get away with something and what they’re trying to get away with is totally against the law," Piskor said. "It’s a violation of Esther’s Law. The camera that they picked out is actually an outside security camera that won’t work in a nursing home because it's an outside security camera and you have to drill through the walls.”

Esther's Law co-sponsor, Ohio State Senator Nickie Antonio, District 23, told News 5 that families who are concerned the law is not being followed can work with the Office of the State Ombudsman through the Ohio Department of Aging. Antonio is hoping both families and nursing homes will work together to make the new law easier to implement.

“They need to have a conversation and both parties need to work together to work out the best possible way to move forward," Antonio said. “There’s always a learning curve when we change policy and it’s a statewide policy.”

Still, Piskor is hoping the state will be proactive in making sure Esther's Law is being properly followed.

“At some point the Ohio Department of Health has to stop this madness from going on. They’re the governing agency for nursing homes and healthcare workers," Piskor said. “All Ohio nursing homes, they should know this law, they’ve had three months to know it, they’ve had over two years to know it was coming. There’s no reason for them to say we didn’t know about it.”