OK House Halts Bill For Comprehensive Nursing Home Reform

Tuesday, February 25th 2014, 3:48 pm
By: News 9

Lawmakers put the brakes on legislation aimed at preventing nursing home violence and neglect. House Bill 2901 did not make it to committee Tuesday, but senior citizen advocates tell News 9 their fight is long from over.

"I'm mad, and if I cause somebody anger, tough," 86-year-old Fern A. Horton said.

Horton is a nursing home abuse survivor. She has lived in two Oklahoma City metropolitan nursing homes.

"If I hadn't begged to go to the hospital … I would have been dead two days later," said Horton.

For years, nursing home advocates have called out Oklahoma for having some of the worst statistics in the country. Local advocate foundation, A Perfect Cause, says more than 3,500 Oklahomans die each year from nursing home abuse and negligence.

"It's time to stand up and protect our loved ones now," citizen advocate Wes Bledsoe said.

A comprehensive bill in the Oklahoma House would increase nursing home staffing, add medical director oversight and require the state to interview elder victims, family members and the accused during investigations of wrongdoing.

"It's a complex bill," State Rep. David Dank said. "It deals with several different subjects, and we're going to get it right when we get it done."

Dank is the chairman of the committee that would have been assigned to hear the bill. He says he is a champion for seniors and their victory is on horizon. However, advocates say there will be more victims the longer Oklahoma waits.

12/18/2014 Related Story: OK Advocates Demand Cameras In Nursing Homes After Abuse Caught On Tape

"We need more boots on the ground right by the bedside," said Horton. "What is wrong with Oklahoma that [it doesn't] stop this?"

Lawmakers say they are going to come together and work out disagreements in the language and content of the bill after the current session.