Long-term care fa­cil­ity rape spurs push for video sur­veil­lance

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY TERRY TANG

PHOENIX | Ari­zona is try­ing to catch up to 10 states with laws al­low­ing elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing and other tech­nol­ogy aimed at de­ter­ring abuse of vul­ner­a­ble people at long-term care fa­cil­i­ties, fol­low­ing the rape of an in­ca­pac­i­tated Phoenix woman who later gave birth.

Cam­eras are most com­monly used, but they pose pri­vacy is­sues, and ad­vo­cates and ex­perts dis­agree about their ef­fec­tive­ness.

Some say video sur­veil­lance can help in crim­i­nal cases but may not stop at­tacks, while oth­ers have seen im­prove­ments and urge any ef­fort to safe­guard those who are ag­ing, sick, dis­abled or oth­er­wise un­able to pro­tect them­selves.

The Ari­zona Leg­is­la­ture is con­sid­er­ing a mea­sure that would let cer­tain fa­cil­i­ties in­stall video sur­veil­lance in com­mon ar­eas. The providers would have to de­tail how to avoid pri­vacy vi­o­la­tions.

The state would join Illi­nois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mary­land, New Mex­ico, Ok­la­homa, Texas, Utah, Vir­ginia and Washington with laws or reg­u­la­tions al­low­ing sur­veil­lance equip­ment in­side nurs­ing homes, as­sisted liv­ing cen­ters and other group res­i­den­tial set­tings.

“We’re look­ing into how to make it so par­ents have more re­li­able ways to en­sure their loved ones are safe,” said Repub­li­can Rep. Nancy Barto, the mea­sure’s spon­sor. “I’m learn­ing a lot of group homes al­ready do this. Some of those poli­cies are ac­tu­ally work­ing.”

Most of those laws place the op­tion and cost of elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing on res­i­dents and their guardians. The ma­jor­ity of the laws say res­i­dents or their sur­ro­gates can put a cam­era or mon­i­tor­ing de­vice in their rooms but must no­tify the fa­cil­ity, among other con­di­tions.

Ca­role Her­man, founder of the ad­vo­cacy group Foun­da­tion Aid­ing the El­derly, is not sure cam­eras would have helped her aunt, who died of bed­sores in a nurs­ing home but said that they might be use­ful in other cases.

Cam­eras in hall­ways can show who is at a pa­tient’s bed­side and how of­ten the pa­tient is get­ting care, she said. She ques­tions why any fa­cil­ity would op­pose them.

“The in­dus­try doesn’t want it ob­vi­ously,” Ms. Her­man said. “But if they care about these people, what’s the re­sis­tance to these cam­eras?”

Ni­cole Jor­wic, di­rec­tor of rights pol­icy at The Arc, a na­tional ad­vo­cacy group serv­ing people with in­tel­lec­tual and de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties, cau­tioned that cam­eras are not a “magic pill.”

“Even if the law’s writ­ten per­fectly well, it’s not go­ing to cap­ture ev­ery form of abuse and ne­glect,” Ms. Jor­wic said.

While cam­eras could help catch abusers, it’s not clear they’re ef­fec­tive at pre­vent­ing vi­o­lence, said Brian Lee, a for­mer Florida long-term care pub­lic ad­vo­cate who heads the ad­vo­cacy group Fam­i­lies for Bet­ter Care.

“As far as pre­ven­tion, I don’t know,” Mr. Lee said, “but I’ve seen it used for prose­cu­tion.”

De­tails were not known about the se­cu­rity sys­tem at the Phoenix fa­cil­ity, where a li­censed nurse is charged with sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a 29-year-old woman who had a baby boy Dec. 29.

Ha­cienda Health­Care said Thurs­day that it was closing the in­ter­me­di­ate care fa­cil­ity that serves young people with in­tel­lec­tual or de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties and would work with the state to move pa­tients else­where.

Af­ter the birth, the state Depart­ment of Health Ser­vices im­ple­mented new safety mea­sures at Ha­cienda, in­clud­ing more mon­i­tor­ing of pa­tient care ar­eas but not video cam­eras.

Ari­zona also is con­sid­er­ing leg­is­la­tion that would re­quire fa­cil­i­ties like Ha­cienda to get a state li­cense and con­duct back­ground checks of em­ploy­ees that care for clients.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Li­censed nurse Nathan Sutherland was charged with sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a 29-yearold in­ca­pac­i­tated woman in Phoenix. The as­sault has pushed Ari­zona to catch up to 10 states with laws or reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing.

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