Cracking Down on Convicted Felons

Cracking Down on Convicted Felons
By: Arnold Wyrick

MURPHYSBORO, IL --The new Healthcare Background Check Act passed by the Illinois General Assembly is designed to make care facilities safer for the residents who live there.  Now all intermediate and long term care centers must do background checks on everyone who lives there.
"If the person is a danger then you're looking at private rooms, separate bathing areas, and more staff supervision.  Which is almost impossible for most facilities to provide these days, because you have very few that are all private rooms, " says Jackson County Rehab & Care Administrator Merle Taylor.
Plus once a convicted felon is found to be living in a facility, warning signs must be posted throughout the home warning everyone who lives there about that person.  Even if the resident no longer poses a threat to other people.
"We have to notify the Illinois Department of Public Health in writing why we feel that they are not a threat, or can not jeopardize the safety of another resident.  And then the department has to approve that," Taylor said.
And Taylor points out there's the added cost of the background checks, and in some cases fingerprint checks that must be done on some residents.
"If that person is immobile then I must find a police officer who can come in and fingerprint that individual, adding to the cost of the background check.  That's money the state isn't reimbursing us on.  Then you add those extra costs onto the money they already are behind in paying us for care, and it really puts a pinch in our finances."
Taylor does agree though that the checks will help create a safer environment for residents and workers, but she questions what's going to happen to those elderly convicted felons.
"Where are the folks going to go that have those convictions?  Things they may have done in their younger years, where are they going to go?  Who is going to care for these residents in the long run?"
The added request for background checks on all the care facility residents statewide is also creating a back log at the Illinois State Police who provide that information to the care centers, and employers.