A Controversial Bill Fails To Move Forward

February 22, 2005 -- Posted at 8:30 p.m. CST

JONESBORO -- "The cameras are diminishing the trust the families have with us. We value that trust, so we would hopefully not want the family or residents we have in our facility to feel the need to use the cameras in our facilities," said Judy Belcher.

Judy Belcher has been an employee of the Lawrence County Nursing Center for 25 years.

The reality of nursing home abuse nationwide prompted the proposal by State Representative Stephen Bright.

If made a law--the Willie Mae Ryan Act would allow cameras to watch how their loved ones are being cared for at the discretion of the family.

It's not an addition Judy Belcher sees in her facility.

"If there are any suspicions there are regulations that mandates things that we must do if they want to report something. All of the tools are there to divert any abuse, and we feel like they are adequate," said Belcher.

Bercher says, in the past, families have asked to take pictures, and use other monitoring devices.

She says keeping the lines of communication open helps families trust the nursing center.

"Once we talk to them and develop that relationship, we have never had one that has had to do it," said Belcher.

Tuesday afternoon, the bill failed to move forward.

Those opposed to the bill argued it would force operators to violate the patient's right to privacy guaranteed under federal law.