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I-Team: RI lawmakers discuss cameras in nursing homes

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Debra Norman came to the state house Wednesday night, not for herself, but to speak up for her 84-year-old father Thomas, who the family says was overdosed and taken away from the now closed Pawtuxet Village nursing home.

"Number one, I don't think these overdosing issues; I don't think my father falling out of bed, all this would have happened had there been cameras in the room," said Norman. The idea of surveillance camera's in nursing homes can stir up debate.

The legislation comes after an I-Team Investigation last year exposed serious deficiencies and questionable practices at some of RI's nursing homes. "What it does, it protects our elderly, our most vulnerable," said state representative Doreen Costa of Exeter/North Kingstown.

Carolyn Medeiros, Executive Director of the Alliance for Safe Communities, tells the I-Team camera's would be positioned in common areas and the decision rests with the patient or a family whether or not they record in individual rooms.

"Entrances and egresses, the flow and ebb of daily activities, who's in the halls, what's going on," said Medeiros. But, nursing homes and those lobbyist who represent them are not giving in without a fight, asking who would foot the bill and monitor the footage, not to mention privacy concerns.

"We just feel that a security camera in a nursing home maybe a little onerous for the residents living there," added Rick McAuliffe, speaking on behalf of Leading Age RI, a group that represents not for profit nursing homes.

Testimony and debate was expected Wednesday in front of the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee, but later postponed until early March.

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