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Nursing homes to allow video cameras

March 08, 2001

Nursing homes to allow video cameras



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Nursing homes in Maryland have agreed to open themselves to so-called granny-cams on a trial basis.

The pilot program, which will put video cameras in two nursing homes in the state, was the result of a bill sponsored by Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington.

"It's historic," Hecht said.

The House Environmental Matters Committee, citing privacy concerns, refused to pass what would have been the first law of its kind in the country, said Chairman Ronald Guns, D-Eastern Shore.

Instead, the nursing home industry has agreed to work on the issue and report their progress to the Maryland General Assembly in 2003.

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"This is almost better because we have people buying into it," Hecht said.

The program will be paid for with fines collected from nursing homes that violate state regulations, she said.

Nothing in state law prevents people from using electronic monitoring now, Hecht said.

Hecht got an opinion from the Attorney General's Office that says it can be done without breaking the state's wiretapping laws as long as notice is posted in the room.

She had filed the legislation hoping the state would lay down rules and regulations.

Hecht has been featured on nationwide news programs for bringing attention to the issue.

Hecht has said she once walked in as her 89-year-old mother being verbally abused by a nursing home worker.

In addition to trying out granny-cams, the nursing home industry has agreed to pilot video phones, said Mark Woodard, a lobbyist for the Health Facilities Association of Maryland.

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