Gov. Mike Parson has signed legislation into law that will let patients living in Missouri’s nursing homes, assisted living centers, and mental hospitals have visible electronic monitoring devices in their room. State Representative Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis, is the bill sponsor. He tells Missourinet he hopes his plan will help families.

Gov. Parson and Rep. Jim Murphy (Photo courtesy of Governor’s Flickr account)

“It gives protection to patients that are in long-term facilities because there’s a history of abuse that has gone unchecked for a quite some time, says Murphy. “Most importantly, I think the circumstances caught up with the bill with the COVID-19 situation, where we had a lack of transparency of what was going on inside the nursing homes and the inability to communicate, or see or talk to your loved ones. Now that this bill is in effect, they can put a camera and two-way communications, for that matter, in the room. They can observe what’s going on. It will be a deterrent to any abuse. It will also give them access to their loved ones in this pandemic situation. So it’s a bill that became timely.”

Opponents of similar bills previously filed have had concerns about the privacy of workers and healthcare laws. Murphy says through negotiations last summer, he and members of the healthcare industry found a sweet spot.

Anyone featured in a recording must approve of the release of the recording unless the information is being given to law enforcement for investigative purposes.

“The big thing we had a problem with was the nursing homes were concerned that if you had a camera in the room, if the nurse came, dropped the bed pan, tripped over it, fumbled around, that since they had no control over the feed – it was going to the families – that they would become Youtube sensations so to speak,” says Murphy.

Under the plan, a visible sign must be placed in rooms where monitoring is occurring. According to Murphy, it bans the use of hidden monitoring devices. If residents have a roommate, their roommate must approve of the equipment use. The device must be owned and operated by the resident or the resident’s legal guardian.

According to Murphy, 13 other states have similar measures.

“We took the best part of each one. I think we probably have the best bill in the country but I’m prejudice,” he chuckled.

The bipartisan bill passed in the last hour of this year’s regular legislative session. House Bill 1387 takes effect August 28.

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