A new law has been introduced into the Ohio legislature that would allow residents in nursing homes to install surveillance measures for their own protection. Senate Bill 58 (SB 58), also known as Esther’s Law, has unanimously passed the Ohio senate and is headed to the house of representatives.

The bill, sponsored by Nickie Antonio and Andrew O. Brenner and cosponsored by 17 other senators, is the farthest any legislation of this sort has advanced, according to Cleveland.com.

The proposed legislation’s moniker “Esther’s law” takes its name from Esther Piskor, a nursing home resident from Cleveland. Cameras placed in Esther’s room by family members revealed that the nursing home’s aides were abusing her. This camera footage later led to the aides’ arrest and criminal convictions related to the abuse they committed.

Under SB 58, a “surveillance instrument with a fixed position video camera or an audio recording device, or a combination thereof” may be placed in the nursing home room to observe and record sounds and events. SB 58 allows the resident, resident’s family, or the resident’s power of attorney to plant a surveillance device as long as certain requirements are met. 

Those requirements include a form being filled out by the family and submitted to the nursing home. Additionally, the family must pay for their own surveillance devices but not any additional costs even if the device uses the facility’s power supply. If the resident has a roommate, they must also receive permission from the roommate. 

This type of legislature has been attempted for years but has received additional support after the COVID-19 pandemic. Esther’s son, Steve Piskor, stated that SB 58 would allow families to check in on their loved ones without exposing them to the risk of infection.

“Family members can see their loved ones instead of peering through a window,” Steve Piskor said.

If passed, SB 58 would clarify an important grey spot in Ohio law. In its current state, the law neither allows nor disallows nursing home monitoring.