May 4, 2024

Senate Bill 1

Inspired by the memory of Joyce Grayson, a home care nurse who was killed while providing care for a patient at a Willimantic halfway home in October 2023, the State Senate passed legislation on May 2 that will provide increased safety for home care workers.

Senate Bill 1, a major priority for the Senate Democratic caucus, would provide home care workers with transparent information about patients’ potential for violence and the safety of residences they visit, improve training to make them aware of potential hazards and provide apps or devices allowing them access to help if needed. The bill also reports verbal abuse and threats faced by staff members and creates a working group to study more ways to provide them with safety.

“The actions we’re taking today are in honor of the men and women who help others recover and heal in their own homes and recognize their growing role in modern health care,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff. “We’re working to continually improve service and quality of care and the actions we’re taking today reflect that drive.”

The bill was made a priority by Public Health Committee Senate Chair Senator Saud Anwar and Vice Chair Martha Marx in response to Grayson’s death – her patient has since been charged with her murder – and only became more pressing after the January 2024 death of live-in home care nurse Otoliegle Morulane in a fire at his patient’s home. Those deaths were avoidable, and Sens. Anwar and Marx, both of whom are health care workers themselves, said they’ve heard many stories from health care workers about safety issues.

Sen. Anwar said surveys of workers found 65% have been verbally abused, 44% have been physically abused and 6% were sexually abused.

“Every worker deserves to feel safe at work, but I can tell you firsthand that home health care workers don’t,” said Sen. Marx. “Recent deaths of home care workers made the news, but too many workers are forced to feel unsafe far too often. With this bill, that will change.

The bill doesn’t stop with just those improvements in defending and supporting public health in Connecticut; it takes a number of steps ranging from working groups to study nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and loneliness and isolation to studies on prescription drug shortages and studies supporting research on Parkinson’s Disease and schizophrenia.

“It will study many issues impacting public health, improve the speed and quality of services provided to patients and work to encourage a greater sense of public safety and security,” said Senator Anwar.

It also takes steps including expanding health plan coverage of coronary calcium scans and ensures hospitals will have plans to prepare for cybersecurity breaches, among many other changes.

“This bill represents an important advance in addressing other public health policy initiatives, including but not limited to studying conditions and diseases and continuing to combat the opioid epidemic,” said Senate President Martin M. Looney. “SB1 represents our continuing commitment to make our state healthier.”

Posted by Joe O’Leary