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.
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.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.