Should nursing home residents be allowed surveillance cameras in their rooms?

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Posted at 6:42 PM, Jan 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-25 18:43:46-05

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Should nursing home residents have the right to be allowed to install surveillance cameras in their own rooms? Some families and State Senator Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) are continuing their fight to make it the law.

George Husted died this month at age eighty-one from Parkinson’s disease. His wife of fifty-nine years, Annette Husted, says she treasures conversations she had with him over a surveillance camera in his nursing home room.

“I would say I love you. He would say, I love you too. Very sincerely. I miss him a lot,” said Annette Husted.

“And now we have some of those videos to keep as well,” said Suzette Husted-Heathcote.

Suzette, one of George’s daughters, saved images recorded on the surveillance camera of her dad making the family smile. In one, George dressed like Santa on Christmas Eve.

“He was sleeping in his Santa hat and it was so cute,” said Suzette.

They say not only did it help them stay connected, once they heard a carbon monoxide detector going off in the room and called the front desk for help. Other times they realized George had fallen and needed help getting up.

“If we saw him on the floor, we would call the front desk and advise them,” said Annette.

They were able to use the video to make changes to help George keep from falling. Many nursing homes do not allow residents to have surveillance cameras. The family wants that to change.

Patty Soma says her aunt spent time in another rehab center after an injury and was not allowed to have cameras there. When her aunt suffered falls, the anxiety Soma felt was heart-wrenching. Was it a hard to prevent accident? Was it neglect? Could equipment in the room have helped her aunt prevent the fall? How long did it take for anyone to notice she needed help?

“I have no idea. Was she on the ground for two minutes? Was she on the ground for two hours? They can only surmise she slipped out of this or slipped out of that. I don’t know that,” said Patty Soma.

“It really is something that is going to be a tremendous protection for people who are going through this pandemic,” said State Senator Jim Runestad (R-White Lake).

State Sen. Runestad is restarting efforts to get legislation passed to make sure nursing home residents have the right to surveillance cameras if they want them. The Michigan State House and Senate passed his bill on the issue last year during a lame-duck session, but it is one of the bills that expired without Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s signature this month.

“What is the reason? We don’t know the reason at this time,” said State Sen. Runestad. “But if there is something we can come together on to make sure this protection is in place, I am more than happy to work with the governor to make this protection go through.”

“The governor let several lame-duck bills expire without her signature. The reasons vary, including a failure to negotiate the bills, disagreement on the underlying policy, or the complexity of the subject matter and the need for further discussion,” said Chelsea Parisio, Deputy Press Secretary for Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-Michigan).

The governor’s office did not provide a specific reason this bill, in particular, was not signed.