A showdown in the Oklahoma legislature on privacy rights when it comes to protecting the elderly from abuse in nursing homes. At issue: Should family be able to put a camera in a loved one's room?
Right now it's up to each nursing home to decide. Senate Bill 587 would allow nursing home residents to freely have cameras inside their rooms. But there's an amendment to the bill that could penalize anyone who sets up a camera without proper permission.
"You cannot say that it's wrong when it discovers abuse and stuff. I mean these people are in their last years, how can we not want to protect them?" said daughter, Doris Racher.
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For the family of Eryetha Mayberry, placing a camera inside their mother's nursing home room meant everything. The three sisters caught workers on camera abusing their mother while she was living in the Quail Creek Nursing Home.
"One of them had put rubber gloves in her hand and she was stuffing them in mother's throat," said Earlene Adkisson, who placed a camera in her mother's room.
Their mother died last summer, and the sisters have strongly supported Senate Bill 587, which would legally allow nursing home residents to have hidden cameras in their room.
But a new amendment to the bill would require residents to notify the nursing home about the camera with a letter, or they could face jail time or a fine. Nursing home advocates are outraged.
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"Now when Dorothy and I started this process, the idea was to protect nursing home residents, no way no how did we have any intention to have something created that could put a nursing home resident and or their family in jail because they failed to register a camera," said citizen co-sponsor of Bill 587, Wes Bledsoe.
"And it isn't just our mother. This is going on right now to someone in a nursing home, and without cameras, you're not going to know what's going on," said Sandra Cisper.
Rep. Harold Wright is the author of the bill's amendment and says it does nothing more but better define the bill's language and require a clearer camera notification process.
The House could vote on the bill as early as Monday. Lawmakers have until Thursday to decide.
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