Nursing home camera bill will become law in Ohio in March

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 9:02 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - After more than a decade of fighting – Esther’s Law will finally become a reality next month. The law will allow for cameras in residents’ rooms in nursing homes. Advocates say it will protect the elderly and help loved ones back up abuse claims.

Steve Piskor faced his worst nightmare more than a decade ago when he suspected his mother was being abused in a Cleveland nursing home. It took him installing a hidden camera and going to the media to prove it. Ever since then, he’s been pushing for this law - named after his mom – so no other family has to go through what he did.

“We knew that something was wrong,” Piskor admitted. “The nurse home was fighting me on everything that I tried to do. I even filed complaints with the Department of Health, and the Department of Health would say basically if we don’t see it, we can’t do anything about it.”

Piskor says the abuse happened in 2011 when his mom was 78 and in MetroHealth’s Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Center.

“The only way I would have known the abuse was going on was with the camera,” Piskor said. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known what was going on. Eventually, they would have hurt her bad or even killed her.”

The video showed nursing home aids physically hitting his elderly mother. Piskor says the evidence was enough to get several of the aids fired and even sent some to jail.

“I seen them actually hit her, and that’s when I took it to the police, and that was even a hard process getting people to actually notice it; it didn’t happen until I actually went to the media on it,” explained Piskor. “The whole idea of everything I’ve done so far for the past ten years was because of what happened to her. I mean, we, we couldn’t -- no matter what I did, I went every day, to the nursing home and sometimes twice a day, and still, I couldn’t stop the abuse. You know, so it’s, it’s something where you, you feel helpless.”

Esther’s law gives nursing home residents the option of putting a camera in their room. Under the new legislation, nursing homes cannot discriminate against residents for putting a camera in. The law does require the consent of the resident’s roommate.

“If the roommate doesn’t want to be on camera, you can make an agreement with a roommate where you can just point the camera at your loved one, and if they can’t come to an agreement, then the nursing home would have to look for another resident and put residents together that don’t want the camera, residents together that do want the cameras,” Piskor explained.

The resident is responsible for buying their own camera. Piskor says the nursing home does not have access to the videos without the resident’s permission. A sign would show when the camera is recording. Piskor’s mom passed away in 2018, so, unfortunately, she won’t see the law come to fruition.

“I know my mother is looking down on this, and I’m sure she’s very happy about what happened,” Piskor said. “I say she went through hell in a nursing home, and so did we.”

Some people we spoke to are concerned this bill will stop the ability for families to put hidden cameras inside nursing homes. State Senator Nickie Antonio sponsored the bill.19 News asked her about these concerns, and she said once the law goes into effect – she will address any issues that transpire down the road.

The law goes into effect on March 23. Piskor is encouraging families to start talking to nursing homes now about this and start looking for a camera.

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