Local News

Group Calls for Tighter State Rules on Health-Aide Hiring

Posted February 1, 2007

An organization that represents nursing homes and health-care agencies is calling for stricter state regulations on hiring people with criminal records following a WRAL story about a woman victimized by a health-care home worker.

WRAL reported Wednesday about the arrest of Jeanette Wright, 53, on charges she opened credit card accounts using the personal information of Mattie Spruill, a 71-year-old woman for whom she cared while working for Carolina Staffing and Home Health Inc.

After Wright's arrest, WRAL was able to find out that she has been convicted of similar crimes and has served jail time. Her criminal record is nearly a dozen pages long and includes charges of financial card fraud, credit card theft, shoplifting, larceny, breaking and entering, forgery and larceny.

"She should have never been allowed to work in the in-home care industry or any industry like a nursing home or assisted living," said Tim Rogers, chief executive officer of the Association for Home and Hospice Care of North Carolina, an association representing home-care agencies. The group is pushing for tougher laws that would ban nursing homes, rest homes and home-care agencies from hiring someone with certain prior convictions.

"We cannot tolerate any of this type of activity. We need to strengthen the current law and change it and change it this year," Rogers said.

The state requires agencies to due background checks on workers, but stops short of prohibiting an agency from hiring someone with a criminal history.

"It's up to the agency to decide if they want to hire that person. There are no offenses that completely exclude someone from being hired or working for a home-care agency," said Jeff Horton, chief operating officer for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Facility Services.

Carolina Staffing administrator Ojimadu Israel told WRAL he was unaware of Wright's lengthy criminal history.

State officials said the first they heard about this case on WRAL. They said Carolina Staffing and Home Health Care is now under investigation for not reporting the allegations. The agency could lose its license.

Wright is accused of charging more than $11,000 in Spruill's name.

"I thought she was nice, talking about the Bible, talking about the church," Spruill said.

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  • crash Feb 2, 2007

    What this women did was clearly wrong. But this happens more than you know. People we intrust to take care of our loved ones are not always on the up and up. Its sad that these people worm themselves into your heart and then steal from you.
    Also, CNA's don't get paid nothing. You go to school for this and you take your certification for this and you don't get paid to do the job. It's hard work and many nursing homes are short staffed because you work hard all day long, there is not enough people to care for the patients, so therefore the patients don't get the care they deserve and the people are overworked and stress because frankly the pay sucks. I think the whole system needs to be overhauled.

  • huntleyperez Feb 2, 2007

    Home health care CNAs do not make a mere 7.00 an hour. I didnt read where she was buying food and groceries...to make ends meet. Didnt see where she was feeding the kids??? She took advantage of an elderly trusting patient...pure and simple.

  • trenitysgrandma Feb 2, 2007

    If these home-health agency paid the employees a decent salary
    maybe there wouldn"t be this kind of thing going on. that does not excuse what this lady done, she should be ashame of her self.she is there to help, not to destroy what the lady has for
    her future.

  • nursevb8 Feb 2, 2007

    They say there is a shortage of nurses--no there isn't, they are just going different avenues do to the lack of $$. The same is with CNAs. This does not forgive Jeanette in any way. Why isn't she still in jail for all these charges. 12 pages worth.

  • notadumbredneck Feb 2, 2007

    The problem here stems not from lack of background checks, but rather the wages paid to these workers. Most CNAs are lucky to earn more than $7 per hour. Could you support yourself earning only $280 per week? Also, these folks have to go through 6 weeks of unpaid 'training' to get this certification. The salaries are woefully inadequate, making the people who hold these jobs quite desperate. I'm not defending the actions of those who choose to take advantage of their patients. Just be aware of the motivating factors. People placed in desperate financial straits sometimes make bad decisions.

  • St Ives Feb 2, 2007

    It is so easy to do a background check on someone.The cost is mimamal, can not understand why these homes can't do it.

  • Fence Straddler Feb 2, 2007

    Didn't this happen at Britthaven (assisted living home) a few years back?

    Jeanette was assisting her patient's alright, she was assisting them all the way to credit heaven.
    SHAME ON YOU JEANETTE WRIGHT (53 years dumb)!