ANNAPOLIS – If our children deserve to be protected from unfit care providers, so do our our elderly.
Those were the sentiments expressed Wednesday in Annapolis, but lobbyists were in disagreement on how they ought to be worked into the law.
A bill sponsored by Del. Michael R. Gordon, D-Montgomery, would require applicants for jobs at care facilities for the elderly to undergo state and federal criminal background investigations.
Gordon said he patterned the law after the Juvenile Protection Act, which requires such checks of workers at child care facilities.
However, not all lobbyists were anxious for the proposed legislation to be passed as is.
Stephen Allen, representing Health Facilities of Maryland, an industry trade association, told the House Environmental Matters Committee that his group had a number of concerns:
– What to do if a person has been charged, but not yet convicted.
– What to do if a subcontractor, such as a repair company, is hired to work in the facility.
– What to do if someone were convicted of a crime not related to providing health care.
“Let us sit down and review together the amendments we’d like the Assembly to consider,” Allen suggested.
Gordon, in a statement to the committee, said he was approached last fall by the director of a continuing care facility and asked: “Why should there be a different requirement for providers of care of the elderly than there is for child care providers?” The legislation was the result.
Isabella Firth, president of the Maryland Association of Non-Profit Homes for the Aging, agreed with Gordon in concept, but said after the hearing, “We have concerns about the practical applications.”
Firth said providers needed more flexibility than the bill would give them. Gordon’s bill would require the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to conduct the investigations, but Firth would like alternatives. Firth said some members of her association do background checks using private companies. Members are “concerned this is just another regulatory layer…you have to go through,” she said, adding “that there are other…more important issues facing care of the elderly in the state now.” -30-