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Care Giver Trust May Have Been Broken in Covington Death

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RALEIGH — We trust home care givers to provide the best help for the sick and elderly. That trust may have been broken in the death of 86-year-old Alice Covington. Her care giver faces first degree kidnapping charges.

It remained unclear whether Carlette Parker would be charged with murder. She has only been formally charged with kidnapping Covington, with bond set at $1 million in a case that is causing many to take a closer look at those they hire to care for their elderly loved ones.

Covington was found dead in her car Thursday in Morrisville.

WRAL has learned that Parker told her employers, Health Mate, that she had been convicted of a felony in 1995. As a home care giver, she had obtained property under false pretenses.

"Sometimes people do make bad mistakes, particularly when they're young," said Sandra Lewis, RN, clinical services director for Health Mate. "Sometimes desperate people do desperate things, and I don't think that's something that we should hold against them for the rest of their lives."

Covington was not a patient at Health Mate, but Lewis feels Parker's arrest could hurt the industry.

"We were really saddened by the impact it has on the family, by the impact it has on our other employees, and by the impact that it has on the home care industry," said Lewis.

"It's just appalling that someone can be placed in situation where they could do that kind of harm to other people who are trusting and have no ability to defend themselves," said Terry Huneycutt, a friend of Covington.

Jesse Goodman is the director of health care registry for North Carolina. He says home care agencies are monitored and regulated by the state. While the industry over all is in good standing, he says some care givers have a common flaw.

"The primary allegation we receive," said Goodman, "is misappropriation of property, or fraud."

Goodman says N.C. law requires that background checks be run on all home care providers. They also must be certified nursing assistants.

Huneycutt said that, contrary to earlier reports, Covington was in good health and was not in need of private care. She had met Parker through a mutual friend was was under Parker's care.

Parker will be back in court June 8. Editor's Note:

Anyone who chooses to hire a care giver is offered this advice from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services:
  • Get and check references.
  • Check the applicant's credit history.
  • Contact the N.C. Department of Facility Services or the N.C. Board of Nursing for background, criminal checks and certification status. The cost ranges from $15 to $30.
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    Kelly Wright, Reporter
    Joe Frieda, Photographer
    MJ Ainsley, Web Editor

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