Ruthie's Law Proposed to Hold Nursing Homes Accountable

County executive introduces law after 2016 death of Ruth Murray

Mike Baggerman
March 24, 2017 - 6:09 pm

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced a new local law on Friday in response to last year’s death of 82 year old Ruth Murray.

Murray, an Alzheimers patient at Emerald South Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Buffalo, was killed by an individual suffering from the same disease after she mistakenly walked into his room.

The new law, known as “Ruthie’s Law”, would require nursing homes to notify residents’ guardians within a one-hour time frame when a determination is made that the residents’ injuries are so severe that they need to be transported to a hospital. 

“While we could not have done anything to save Ruth’s life…we can ensure it doesn’t happen to other families across Erie County,” Poloncarz explained.

Poloncarz also signed his 16th executive order as head of the county at Friday’s meeting. The executive order called for the creation of a website to publicize the ranking of nursing homes in Erie County. The site is scheduled to launch on Monday. It will be publicized on Erie.Gov. 

Emerald South Nursing Home was fined $10,000 as a result of the August incident. Poloncarz was joined with New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan to call on the state legislature to support a newly-presented law that would increase the maximum fine for nursing home offenses to $50,000.

While New York has yet to provide similar legislation statewide, Poloncarz explained its importance at the local level.

“I think it’s very important that we in local government take responsibility when we can,” he said. “Here’s an example of when we can…We think it’s important that it’s sending a message to nursing home operators to Erie County. That here’s some responsibilities you need to follow.”

The law must be approved by the Erie County Legislature before it is enacted.

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