My dad used to preach about how a man will always reap what he sows. Throughout my adulthood, I have often reflected on this, and found great solace in knowing that we all will reap, as we have sown. However, today, I am questioning the justice of such thoughts. Here’s why. Last year I had an employee who I will call Jane Smith. Jane was a fairly decent caregiver, meeting the needs of the residents in the facility. She seemed kind, patient and understanding. I found her to be an above average employee.Boy was I wrong about her in more ways than one.
On January 9th last year, I received a phone call from a Mrs. Perry’s daughter who was livid. Her mother had called her, accusing her of stealing money, writing checks on her account and using her credit cards for online shopping sprees. The daughter was calling to vent her frustrations about her mother’s accusations. Jane had been diagnosed with mild dementia a year or so back and you could tell their relationship was adrift. I listened sympathetically, offering an understanding ear. I explained how this is a very common accusation among dementia patients.
The next day, I received another call from the daughter. ” Hey, do you have anybody that works there by the name of Jane Smith?”, she asked. Not only is it my duty to protect the residents of the facility but also the privacy of the employees. Before I could explain to her my legal obligations of who works in the facility, she blurted out “She has written a lot of checks on my mother’s account.”
Theft in long term health care facilities is a daily occurrence that can rarely be proven. Residents misplace watches, rings, dentures, glasses, money, purses…on and on the list goes.How would we ever know if a watch has been flushed down the toilet, or pawned at the local pawn shop? But writing checks ….now that should be a slam dunk, easy to prove, easy to prosecute, easy to have her nursing assistant certification revoked type of case. Ummmmm, NO.
I thought I did everything right. I contacted the police who in turn, arrested her. She spent one night in jail and then was released pending her court date.I contacted all of the government agencies and boards, hoping to prevent her from being able to prey on others while she waited for her trial.
” Jessi, we don’t treat people like criminals until they are convicted.Until she is proven guilty of something, she has the right to continue to work in health care, the right to maintain her certifications and the right to not disclose her arrest on future employment applications.” That’s what they told me. Accusation is not conviction. In Virginia, an applicant must be ‘convicted” of a crime to be defined as ineligible for employment. So to be clear, Jane Smith can prey on people until the justice system catches up with her.
In late March, we had a court case. I was ready to testify on behalf of the Commonwealth. Guess what? The case is postponed. May rolls around, same story, postponed due to Jane hiring another lawyer. July….postponed…..September…postponed……November….postponed again….. By now, I have tossed her file in my desk drawer, resolved that she will get off the hook and there is nothing I can do about it. The new hearing date is February 2014. Oh goody, another day I will sit in the courtroom, wait patiently for her turn, only for her to get another delay.
Last week, on the front page of the local newspaper….would you believe what made the headlines? “Health Care Worker Arrested”.
There was Jane’s mug shot, big as day. She had stolen another elderly person’s credit cards, even using the credit card to pay her lawyers fees for
According to the article, she evidently made a living preying on the elderly and was pretty good at doing so.
How did this happen? Why? Why did there have to be more than one victim in this story? Why was she allowed to continue to work in a field where trust is so essential? Why was she allowed to go behind closed doors with helpless, defenseless people, when we know she can’t be trusted? How did the justice system fail all the elderly involved?
I don’t know how this will turn out, but I am going work for change. I am going to lobby for changes as to how we go about gathering information for criminal background checks and what information health care facilities are allowed to know about a potential employee before their set foot in a facility. It may a waste of my time, effort and energy, but all I can do is try.
It was interesting to read the comments in the newspaper about Jane. Many of the readers blamed the facilities for not digging deeper into her background. They defined our industry as a “horror”. They just don’t know how hard we try to prevent things like this from happening. I feel responsible enough for hiring Jane in the first place. I feel even worse about the rest of her victims.
My dad was right, we do reap what we sow…..but sometimes I prefer his sermon, “Vengeance is mine,saith the Lord”. Whether justice is served in this lifetime or not…..one day……..one day, we will all reap what we have sown.
This link below….well it’s an interesting read.