Local Nursing Home Reacts to New Surveillance Law

Published: Nov. 6, 2013 at 10:55 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2013 at 3:07 PM CST
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LAWTON Okla_ A bill signed by Governor Mary Fallin back in May that allows families of nursing home residents to electronically monitor their loved ones went into effect as of Nov. 1.

This law not only means surveillance cameras can be placed in resident's rooms; they can also be placed in common areas, but only if the resident or family member pays for it. Oklahoma received an 'F' rating for nursing home care from a study released several months ago by a non-profit group called Families for Better Care.

7News spoke with the administrator of one local nursing home. She said she doesn't think this law will change how they operate. She said they have not had anyone express interest in putting surveillance cameras in. Granted, the law is still very new. The study has been out for several months, though.

"I have a long history in the long-term care industry and have worked in a lot of different facilities in Oklahoma," McMahon Tomlinson Nursing Center Administrator Tina Williams-Easton said. "I've never personally witnessed the kind of abuse that has been projected in the report."

The report placed Oklahoma 48th among the 50 states in nursing home care. Tina said she understands wanting to put cameras in loved one rooms for peace of mind, but she personally doesn't think they belong there.

"There is a lot of personal care that's provided in the rooms, and I think there is a lot to be said about dignity with the camera issues," Tina said.

The law also requires nursing facilities to post a sign at or near their main entrance that clearly states that electronic monitoring and audio devices may be used in the facility. She said she and her staff are always on the floor doing research to make sure their care is at its best, and at the sign of any issues, they are quick to address the problem.

"We also run background checks, pretty extensive background checks on all of our employees," Tina said. "So, we are careful about who we hire."

Tina said family involvement is very important in providing good patient care.

"The more they get to know the staff, the more the staff interacts with the family. It provides more of a family atmosphere," Tina said.

The law prohibits a nursing facility from refusing to admit a patient or removing a current one because they or their loved wants their room electronically monitored.