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Candid cameras: Groups question coalition's report, tactics.

Groups question coalition's report, tactics

WHERB A CALL TO PLACE SURVEILLANCE cameras in the rooms of nursing home residents will lead is uncertain, but the advocacy group behind the plan created quite a buzz with its September press briefing to unveil it.

The Coalition to Protect America's Elders, an advocacy group founded by Florida lawyer James Wilkes, delivered its indictment of the nursing home industry at a September 14 event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Advocacy groups and nursing home representatives attended the event, at which the coalition unveiled the report, America's Secret Crisis: The Tragedy of Nursing Home Care.

Tom Burke, spokesman for the American Health Care Association, calls the plan for surveillance--which is spelled out in the report--poorly thought out. "It sounds like a simple proposal," he says, "but surveillance would add up to a much larger process. Some residents can afford cameras, but what about Medicaid residents? What about privacy issues? What if the family doesn't secure the resident's permission?"

AHCA is also troubled by the coalition's links to Wilkes, whose law practice handles suits against nursing homes. "It leaves something to be desired ethically when lawyers solicit business from advocacy groups they also fund," says Burke.

The coalition, however, doesn't apologize for its founder, Says executive director Barbara Hengestebeck, "Jim doesn't need the coalition to get his cases."

After the event, the National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform applauded the coalition's efforts. "Camera surveillance is an option for people who feel something is wrong they can't put their finger on," says NCCNHR executive director Sarah Burger.

Though Wilkes' coalition reports that many groups are backing its plan--including the Association for Protection of the Elderly in Lexington, South Carolina, and the Nursing Home Monitors in Godfrey, Illinois--some weren't pleased with the fact that the group presented them in a press release announcing the event as participants when they were only attendees. "There was no dialogue" prior to the event, noted a representative of one national group.
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Title Annotation:The Coalition to Protect America's Elders recommends surveillance cameras in nursing homes
Publication:Contemporary Long Term Care
Date:Nov 1, 1999
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