Runestad responds to ‘pocket veto’ of nursing home camera bill

Gov. Whitmer shoots down provision to provide vital protection from abuse and isolation for nursing home residents

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad responded Tuesday to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s failure to sign Senate Bill 77, a measure to permit nursing home residents the option of installing a camera in their own rooms.

“In the last year we’ve seen the appalling policy from Gov. Whitmer of placing COVID-19-infected patients in nursing homes with uninfected patients. Our seniors have been suffering in isolation, and many have continued to be physically abused,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “And now with this pocket veto, the governor has chosen to continue playing politics with our vulnerable citizens.”

Earlier in 2020, a video leaked of an elderly nursing home resident who was severely beaten by a 20-year-old, COVID-19-positive young man who was placed in the nursing home by the governor’s executive orders.

“Without the benefit of video, no one would have known the truth of how Mr. Bledsoe was injured,” Runestad said. “The governor had a chance to sign this bill and help stop the type of abuse we’ve seen in nursing homes for years. Instead she chose to turn a blind eye, and now seniors pay the price.”

Runestad’s bill would have given residents the option of installing a camera in their own room. All roommates would need to have signed off on the camera, and signage acknowledging the camera’s presence would have been required at the front of a facility where an electronic monitoring device was in use.

“Signing this common-sense, bipartisan bill was imperative to protecting our loved ones. It was a no-brainer,” Runestad said. “Instead, the governor is playing a game of hide-and-seek politics with the lives of our most vulnerable seniors. Michigan seniors deserve better.

“Whatever her reasoning, I will not be detoured from working to protect our most vulnerable. Nursing home residents should be allowed to install their own video cameras. They deserve to be able to communicate with their loved ones and be protected from abuse.

“We owe it to Michiganders to do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable, and this legislation was a major step to that end. It is inexcusable that the governor chose not to protect our loved ones.”