CLEVELAND (WJW) — Legislation that would allow Ohio families to install cameras in their loved ones’ rooms at nursing homes is one step closer to becoming a new law in the state.
Unofficially known as Esther’s Law, the bill has become the life’s work of a Northeast Ohio man whose mother was a victim of elderly abuse.
The story began to unfold after the family of 78-year-old Esther Piskor was forced by the effects of dementia to place her in a Cleveland nursing home. Over time, they began to see signs of abuse.
“My mother couldn’t tell me what was wrong, but then I began to see bruises and different things on her, and that prompted me to put the camera in,” Steve Piskor told NewsNation affiliate WJW.
After Esther’s son placed the hidden camera in her room at the nursing home, it captured startling video of eight nursing aides abusing his mother.
The actions of two of the aides were so egregious that they were convicted of elderly abuse and sent to prison.
“It was just horrific abuse, and it had such a bad effect on me and my family,” Steve said.
To help other families facing the same nightmare, he approached Ohio lawmakers in 2011 about creating a new law that would give families the option of installing surveillance cameras in the rooms of elderly relatives.
He called the legislation Esther’s Law.
“If I would have had this option to put a camera in my mother’s room, she probably never would have been abused because I would have been able to monitor her care,” Steve said.
For 10 long years, Steve has waged his crusade from his home in Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn neighborhood, but over the years, there were always roadblocks in Columbus that prevented the legislation from becoming law.
Among other things, members of the General Assembly were reluctant to impose the law on the private nursing home industry.
“There were times you feel like quitting, you feel like throwing your hands up and say, ‘Let somebody else do it, you know, it’s not worth it,’” Steve said.
But the sponsor of the latest version of Esther’s Law, State Sen. Nickie Antonio — (D) Lakewood, said it took on added significance during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why it was passed by the Ohio Senate and is now being considered by a House committee.
“This seemed like such an easy way to give some tools to families to be able to protect their loved ones and to communicate with them when they can’t always be there,” Antonio told WJW.
Steve says Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told him that he supports using cameras in nursing homes to prevent elderly abuse and indicated he would sign the bill if it came across his desk.
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Now one step closer to winning passage of Esther’s Law, Steve says he has felt his mother’s presence every step of the way in his 10-year journey.
“You know, I can look up and say, ‘Mom, this is for you.’ Every time these cameras go in there, they’re going to know it’s Esther’s Law,” Steve said.
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