Cameras in nursing home rooms closer to reality after Esther’s Law passes Ohio Senate

Published: May. 20, 2021 at 6:57 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s a big step for families fighting possible neglect and abuse of their loved ones inside long term care facilities.

Cameras in nursing home rooms could be a future option for families as a new state bill moves forward.

19 Investigates spoke to the man behind the push for Esther’s Law.”

A hidden camera caught abuse of Esther Piskor inside a northeast Ohio nursing home several years ago.

The evidence was enough to send several of the aids to jail and also lose their jobs, according to Steve Piskor, Esther’s son.

“Without the camera I wouldn’t have known the abuse was going on to the extent it was,” he said.

Piskor is overcome with emotion.

After more than a decade of fighting for more accountability, Esther’s Law is halfway there.

It passed in the Ohio Senate Wednesday.

“There’s no words for it, unbelievable,” Piskor said.

The isolation of nursing home residents during the coronavirus pandemic brought this issue home for families as facilities shut down to visitors.

“The pandemic kind of woke everyone up to the problems that we have in nursing homes,” he said.

Esther’s Law would be voluntary for nursing homes residents, and their families would foot the bill for the cameras.

A sign would show when the camera is recording.

Piskor hopes nursing homes would embrace this added layer of protection for residents, especially for things like accidental falls.

“It’s not something we’re trying to pull over on anybody. We’re just trying to stop neglect and abuse. And hopefully a lot of families will be able to check in on their loved ones anytime they want,” he said.

He just wants to prevent the pain his family went through from happening to other families.

“Everyone who puts a camera in there is going to know why, they’re going to ask, ‘who is Esther?’ And she’s going to be remembered because of it,” Piskor said.

Several states have similar laws in place already.

But some advocates we spoke to are concerned this bill will stop the ability for families to put hidden cameras inside nursing homes.

State Senators Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Andrew O. Brenner (R-Powell) announced the Ohio unanimously passed Senate Bill 58 on Wednesday.

They noted there were more than 19,000 reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation in Ohio in state fiscal year 2018, the most recent year data is available.

That’s an increase of nearly 3,000 from the previous year.

Esther’s Law now goes to the Ohio House next, where it will be assigned to a committee.

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