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Health Department group will study nursing-home resident protection changes



A branch of the state Department of Health board decided today to study proposed rule changes aimed at better nursing-home resident protection.

The Long-Term Care Advisory will study what changes should be made and make final recommendations to the state Board of Health. A Perfect Cause, a watch-dog organization, suggested most of the changes.

The proposals include:

Mandating nursing home staff to immediately report criminal acts to law enforcement. Require video monitoring of nursing home facilities. Require criminal background checks for nursing home staff and residents. Developing sexual consent policies.

The law enforcement notification mandate is of high importance for A Perfect Cause founder Wes Bledsoe.

"We know criminal acts are not being reported to law enforcement and that is very concerning," Bledsoe said. "Law enforcement should be notified first. That's a crime scene."

Under current rules, the health department conducts its own investigation first before notifying police. The rules allow for health officials to only contact police if criminal intent is found.

Scott Rowland with the Oklahoma County District Attorney's office backed up Bledsoe's comments. He said state statutes are ambiguous on when to call law enforcement.

"Judging criminal intent is our job," Rowland told the board. "We do it every day."

The board will next meet in January and should come up with a set of rules for which the state health board may act. "Scott Cooper


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