Bill adds surveillance cameras to OK nursing homes

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DURANT, OK -- Nursing homes in Oklahoma could soon be required to have surveillance cameras throughout the facilities, and residents could choose to have them placed in their rooms. The proposed bill has yet to receive a 'no' vote

The full Senate and a House committee both approved the bill unanimously. The author and supporters of Senate Bill 587, also known as the "Protect Our Loved Ones" Act, say the bill will hold nursing homes accountable.

If passed, residents or a family member could put recording cameras in the resident's room. They can place the camera out in the open or conceal it. And the bill prohibits nursing homes from refusing to admit a resident who wants a camera, and the home could not remove it.

The bill also requires nursing homes to put cameras around their facility in common areas like the living room, dining area, entrance and exits.

Supporters of the bill say this will deter crime and protect the safety of the elderly, but some believe requiring nursing homes to buy the surveillance cameras is money that could be spent more effectively on training, benefits and wages.

Heartland Plaza in Durant has already installed surveillance cameras on their own outside their facility and in the hallways, but not in individual rooms.

The administrator says it's too bad it has to come to this, but she recognizes the benefits.

"We want to have proof that nothing is going on. But you know, with families and residents you always want to make sure that everything's going right. So, it could be positive for us but we really don't worry that it's not, because we try to give really good care here and have a good staff to take care of these people," Heartland Plaza administrator Jenny Simmons said.

It's still in question as to who will monitor the video tapes, have access to them, and report problems.

Texas already enacted this same bill ten years ago. Oklahoma's bill will now head to the full House for a vote.

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