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May 2017 Column - Ruthie’s Law improves accountability in nursing homes


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

Legislator Ted Morton honored Depew Firefighter Marc Adamberger for saving the lives of five Central Avenue residents, whose building had caught fire the morning of June 29, 2017 while they were still asleep. A proclamation was presented to Adamberger during a presentation held July 19, 2017 at the Fire Hall to recognize his quick thinking and bravery.


You may have seen in the national news reports about efforts across the country to make local communities sanctuary communities. Generally speaking, sanctuary policies are policies that restrict or limit local law enforcement from alerting Federal immigration officials about people who may be in the country illegally. Sanctuary communities, whether counties or cities, tend not to enforce immigration law.


Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard was joined by County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Dr. Gale Burstein – Erie County Health Commissioner, Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo, Legislator Ted Morton, Chair of Energy and Environment committee to discuss the prescription drug drop off program and the disposal of nearly 2-tons of medications.


Erie County Legislator Ted Morton will host Community Outreach Meetings on Monday, July 10 and Tuesday, July 11 to meet with residents to discuss any questions or concerns they may have related to county issues.


Erie County Legislator Ted Morton (R-Cheektowaga) announced his strong opposition to the NFTA’s imposition of a $3.50 fee on ridesharing trips to and from the airport.


This month I wanted to talk about a new law I sponsored that will offer additional protections to our seniors residing in nursing homes and will improve access to information that is vital to families that are choosing a nursing home. Ruthie’s Law aims to respond to recent incidents of neglect occurring at nursing homes throughout our community by becoming more proactive and providing more transparency regarding incidents and their causes.  

Ruthie’s Law is named after the tragic case of Ruth Murray, who unsupervised, accidently walked into a room in the dementia unit and was attacked by another resident. Suffering from severe injuries, Ms. Murray passed away three days later. A state investigation found that the nursing home she resided in was not ensuring proper resident supervision and failed to notify the authorities or Ms. Murray’s family in a timely manner. This was a tragic event that we need to do everything we can to prevent from happening again. 

Ruthie’s Law aims to address this issue through requiring nursing homes to notify a designated family member no more than two hours after a resident suffers an injury that requires medical treatment. Notification must include all information known at the time it took place and what the nursing home has done in response to the incident. Nursing homes will also be required to provide reports detailing the number of reportable events and provide potential patients and their designated representatives with copies of the facilities most recent Nursing Home Performance Quality Measure data.

Nursing homes in violation of the law’s provisions can face a penalty of up to $1,000 with multiple events in a calendar year, resulting in a fine of up to $2,000. In addition, the Erie County Attorney will have that authority to bring legal action in order to obtain any civil penalty assigned as a result of a violation. 

Our seniors living in nursing homes are some of the most vulnerable among us. We want, and need to be able to trust the facilities caring for our senior citizens. Most of our nursing homes do tremendous work to care for our family members, but we need to hold those accountable that do not. This law seeks to bring transparency to nursing homes in order to help prevent tragedies, like Ms. Ruth Murray’s case, from happening again. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the Legislature and the County Executive to make sure this law gets passed.  

On a different note, many people have reached out to my office regarding when the 2017 county hazardous waste collection days will be. The next one will be held on Saturday, June 3rd from 9am-2pm at ECC South at the entrance on Big Tree Road/Route 20A. There will also be one held at ECC North off Wehrle Drive on Saturday, August 5th from 9am-2pm. As always should you have any questions on this or any other issue, please give me a call at 858-8856 or send an email to ted.morton@erie.gov