By: Darcy Spears
LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Care and comfort are the basic expectations families have when taking a loved one to a nursing home. But sometimes, that's not what you get.
We first shared the story of Henry Owens in August, 2020. Henry passed away six months after our story aired.
His sister, Theresa, has never stopped fighting to ensure he did not die in vain.
Our story about Henry's plight, and Theresa's relentless pursuit of justice, got the attention of Nevada Assemblywoman Shondra Summers-Armstrong, who proposed a new law to keep an eye on one of our state's most vulnerable populations.
"Everybody that sees the pictures... They're mortified," Theresa Owens-Bigay told 13 Investigates in 2020.
What can happen in nursing homes can be horrific as elderly people entirely dependent on the care of others are sometimes neglected, abused and suffering.
"It was horrible," Theresa said about her brother's care. "Nobody should have to live in those conditions, whatsoever. Nobody!"
Theresa's lawsuit, which is still ongoing, accuses Life Care on Harmon and Eastern avenues of multiple failures in care, like placing Henry's water out of reach, not helping him eat or drink, leaving his food and juice out for several days to spoil, and not changing his soiled diapers.
Medical records referenced in the lawsuit show Henry suffered numerous urinary tract infections due to being left for hours in soaking diapers and sheets.
He was sent to the hospital for treatment of those infections multiple times, as well as for severe dehydration, MRSA and sepsis.
When Theresa went to visit him on March 28, 2019, she recalls:
"It was lunchtime and I came into the dining room, and low and behold he's laying on the ground. And I got the camera out and I started filming. 'You don't need to film this,' the administrator said. And I said, 'Yes I do, honey.'
When COVID hit and Las Vegas went on lockdown, Theresa and her camera were kept out. No family or friends were allowed to visit loved ones in any Nevada nursing homes at the time.
That gave Theresa the idea to propose "Henry's Law," which will ensure there are eyes and ears in a patient's room so family can always keep tabs on their care.
DARCY SPEARS: "You saw the care that he was getting when you could visit him."
THERESA OWENS-BIGAY: "And that was bad."
SPEARS: "And then when you couldn't?"
OWENS-BIGAY: "I was scared. I was distraught."
Assembly Bill 202 would authorize nursing home patients or their representatives to have cameras equipped with video and sound installed in their rooms. Facilities will be required to approve the request and are prohibited from denying admission or discharging a patient over a recording device.
In addition, nursing home employees would not be allowed to refuse to enter the rooms or refuse to care for those patients with cameras.
The patient or their representative would be responsible for choosing and paying for the device, installing, maintaining and removing it.
A.B. 202 will be heard on Monday, March 13 by the Health and Human Services Committee, and lawmakers want your opinion or testimony.
You may attend the hearing at the Grant Sawyer building at 1:30 p.m. in room 4401.
The address for the Grant Sawyer building is 555 East Washington Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89101.
You may call in and testify if you cannot make it in person. The number is 888-475-4499, and the meeting ID number is 84050949170.
You may also submit a public opinion on the Nevada Legislature website by following these step-by-step instructions:
- Once on the website, go to the top right of the page on the blue bar and click "Scheduled Meetings"
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Upcoming Events"
- Then scroll down to Monday, March 13, 2023
- Scroll down to time 1:30 pm. There are two 1:30 pm time slots. Click the one that reads "Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services"
- Then click on "A.B. 202"
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page and see "Public Opinions." That is where you can submit your opinion.
Full Article & Source:
'Henry's law' seeks to allow cameras in nursing home patient rooms