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Changes to Peggy’s Law Help Protect Elderly in Nursing Homes

Changes to Peggy's Law Help Protect Elderly in Nursing Homes

The Story Behind Peggy’s Law

Peggy Marzolla was a 93-year-old woman who died in 2010, within months of being injured at a Brick Nursing Home Facility. Her injuries included a broken eye socket, cheekbones and wrist, among other damages.

The Brick Nursing Home staff claimed her injuries were the result of an accidental fall, but Peggy’s daughter, Maureen Persi, did not believe the story. Displeased with the State’s follow-up, she went on to lobby for better protections for institutionalized seniors under “Peggy’s Law.”

“Peggy’s Law,” requires virtually any health care facility employee to immediately notify local law enforcement if they suspect any of their residents are experiencing abuse, exploitation or other criminal harm.

However, under current law, employees are not required to report these concerns to police, but rather to the State’s Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly.

New Changes for Peggy’s Law in New Jersey

This past month, the reporting requirements for Peggy’s Law changed.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bipartisan bill that requires workers at the more than 900 state-regulated facilities that house senior citizens to promptly contact police if they suspect abuse, exploitation, or other criminal harm involving any of the elderly residents.

Police notification must be made within 24 hours of an incident – or two hours if an injury is involved. The bill holds both the worker and the facility responsible if this call is not made within the specified timeframe.

Senator Diane Allen called employees the “first line of defense against abuse” and said families of seniors count on employees to report such matters. Thankfully, the changes to Peggy’s Law now requires employees to take action as the first line of defense if they suspect or witness any abuse.

The Fight Against Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Peggy’s daughter, Maureen Persi, said she can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the new law is in place to help elderly residents of nursing home facilities.

Persi endured seven years of negotiations, protests and calls to legislators. She fought tirelessly with powerful lobbying groups and did so without donors or an organized committee. Previously, New Jersey’s elder laws had not been updated since 1987.

Victory was sweet indeed – not just for Persi – but for all elders in New Jersey State Facilities.

Most of us are aware of the sobering statistic that one in ten elderly people are abused in nursing homes each year. What may not be as well known is that New Jersey has one of the worst records in the country for preventing and treating bedsores. In New Jersey, eight out of every 100 residents, on average, have a pressure ulcer or bedsore according to 2014 federal inspection data from Medicaid and Medicare.

While we hope Peggy’s Law and other measures will continue to protect and care for the elderly in assisted living and nursing home facilities, we also know that in many cases, more assistance is needed. At Dansky | Katz | Ringold | York, we are dedicated to fighting for your family and ensuring that nursing homes are held accountable for treating our elders with the best care.

If you are concerned about the treatment a loved one is receiving, we urge you to contact our team of nursing home abuse lawyers. For over two decades, the attorneys at Dansky | Katz | Ringold | York have successfully pursued nursing home negligence claims against facilities that cut corners on care for their residents. It is our hope that this bill will be another step towards ensuring all nursing home residents receive the necessary care they deserve.