The state senate decides to put special focus on the safety of nursing homes and long-term residential care facilities. A commission headed by the Lieutenant Governor made some recommendations last year. The state mental health commission has issued separate recommendations, all before the fire in Anderson that killed 11 group home residents. Since then, the state department of health has joined mental health with additional fire safety recommendations for such facilities. Senate leader Michael Gibbons of Kirkwood is setting up a special five member committee to consider mental health reform…and how mental illness and develomental disabilities are handled. Gibbons says people served by those homes deserve special attention. He calls them “extraordinarily vulnerable.” Gibbons says he thinks this is an issue that deserves bipartisan support. And he gets it from senate minority leader Maida Coleman, who says she wants to see improved accountability by the state and by the department that oversees group hopes. Her counterpart in the House, Jeff Harris of Columbia, says more regulation is needed of public and private facilities in the wake of the Anderson Guest House tragedy. House Speaker Pro-Tem Carl Bearden of St. Charles says, however, that careful consideration must be given before action is taken to avoid doing more harm than good.
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