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Missouri Legislature OKs adding cameras in nursing homes


With long-term care facilities shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Missouri Legislature OK’d a bill aimed at providing greater transparency in the facilities just before the session’s end. 

HB 1387, championed this year by Rep. Jim Murphy, is not a new concept; it has been kicked around the General Assembly for about a decade, with compromises and tweaks made along the way. It’s a situation where “circumstances caught up with the bill,” Murphy said.

State Rep. Jim Murphy

The version passed on the final day of session allows family members to request the installation of video cameras in a room to monitor their loved ones. The ability to install cameras could provide two benefits, Murphy said: a new way to communicate with loved ones remotely and to ensure family members are receiving proper care. 

“This is a bill that’s as current as they come. Before, it was just simply a matter of how do we observe if there’s abuse going on. This pandemic shows nursing homes are so susceptible to the disease, and they shut down,” Murphy told The Missouri Times. 

“Shutting down public access to nursing facilities was important in protecting that vulnerable population, but it also led to isolation of those patients from their families,” he said. “We’ve seen how technology can help bridge that isolation and now it will be law.”

Privacy protections are included in the bill. For example, releasing the streaming footage is prohibited — except to law enforcement should abuse or other illegal activity be discovered. And all residents in a room would need to sign off on the installation of a camera with notices visibly posted.

“You can’t just put up a hidden camera. It has to be out in the open,” the Republican lawmaker said. 

The bill unanimously passed the Senate last week; it made it out of the House in a 147-7 vote in late February. 

As of Wednesday morning, there have been more than 11,000 positive coronavirus cases throughout Missouri and 616 deaths. A majority of those deaths, 447, have occurred among Missourians who were at least 70 years old. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.