Thursday, March 3, 2011

Almost all nursing homes have employees with criminal past, estimated 5% of employees; background-check bill seems dead

A new federal report says 92 percent of nursing homes employ someone with a criminal record. Most states require such facilities to check the backgrounds of applicants for employment, but the standards vary and some, such as Kentucky, do not check the backgrounds of those not involved in patient care, and a bill to extend that to them appears dead in the General Assembly.

"About 5 percent of nursing home workers—or one out of every 20—had at least one conviction, according to the report, which took a random sample of 260 nursing homes certified by Medicare and ran FBI background checks on their workers," reports Marian Wang of ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative news agency.

“The current system of background checks is haphazard, inconsistent and full of gaping holes in many states,” Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, told The New York Times. “Predators can easily evade detection during the hiring process, securing jobs that allow them to assault, abuse and steal from defenseless elders.” The lack of national standards allows people convicted in one state to work in another—a more significant factor in states like Kentucky, which border several other states and have population centers on the borders.

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