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House Debates, Passes Bill Allowing Cameras in Nursing Home Rooms

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SDPB

A bill giving nursing home and assisted living center residents the option to put a surveillance camera in their room is one step closer to the governor’s desk. The House of Representatives passed the bill, but not before debating the possible risks of adding cameras to the elder care equation.

Representative Ryan Cwach points out HB 1062 bars the resident and their family from using the facility’s WiFi to connect the closed-loop video surveillance. He says that makes it unlikely that anyone but wealthier residents can afford to take advantage of the option.

“Who do you think the nurses are gonna pay more attention to when they’re giving care to their residents? Is it the ones that don’t have a camera watching them the whole time, or is it the ones that do have a camera in the room that’s being recorded.”

Cwach adds his mother is a CNA, and he says a facility’s “rank and file” employees shouldn’t have to be under surveillance as part of their job.

But Representative Tamara St. John—whose nieces are CNAs in Minnesota--rose in support of the bill. Minnesota recently allowed cameras in nursing homes, and St. John asked her niece’s opinion.

“And she said, I think it’s very good cus some of the people that work in our nursing homes are mean. And it’s a way of ensuring they maintain a certain standard knowing they are going to be watched.”

The bill’s prime sponsor, Representative Tina Mulally, says video surveillance could offer comfort to families with relatives in facilities far away. Cwach says the state could solve that problem by improving Medicaid funding so rural nursing homes don’t close.

The bill passes the House vote with 56 in favor, 11 opposed, and 3 excused.