Nursing homes are a 'perfect place' for fugitives

June 30, 2010
4 Comments

During a recent raid of Virgil Calvert Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, an Illinois nursing home, state Attorney General Lisa Madigan along other local authorities nabbed a 61-year-old who was wanted on an active Missouri drug warrant.

The raid was part of Madigan's “Operation Compliance,” a program designed to improve the safety of nursing home residents in Illinois. Since the inception of Operation Compliance in late 2009, the program has identified 61 people statewide with active warrants living freely amongst the general nursing home population. Seventeen of the people with outstanding warrants were arrested on the spot.

Many of the criminals nabbed during the raids are able-bodied and/or younger people. In the case of the Virgil Calvert criminal, Madigan seemed to indicate that this particular individual stood out from your typical nursing home resident. “He knew he was wanted. He seemed perfectly able-bodied. These nursing homes have been turning out to be the perfect place for hiding out,” added Madigan's spokeswoman Cara Smith.

Thus far, the raids have been conducted at just 12 out of the more than 1,200 long-term care facilities in Illinois. While I'm sure there is good reasoning behind the attorney general's selection of these 12 facilities, it is scary to think of how many criminals may be living amongst the fragile nursing home population on a statewide basis.

Nursing homes have a duty to provide a safe environment for their residents. Hopefully, raids such as this will encourage nursing homes across the state to implement more stringent programs to screen residents—particularly the able-bodied people who are easily capable of harming the disabled.

Jonathan Rosenfeld is a lawyer who represents people injured in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Jonathan has represented victims of nursing home abuse and neglect throughout Illinois and across the country. Visit his personal blog at

www.nursinghomesabuseblog.com

and his Web site

BedsoreFAQ.com

.

Comments

Dear Anonymous Reader-

Criminals and criminal activity are pervasive in our society. However, unlike the streets where the law abiding citizens and criminal (past or present) share public space, nursing homes are private facilities.

Further, nursing homes care for some of the most vulnerable members of society. Eradicating people with criminal backgrounds really does improve the safety of residents and employees alike.

I have seen first-hand problems related to criminals living freely amongst the nursing home population. In most cases, a cursory background check would have alerted the facility to the violent past.

Thankfully, the attention the Illinois Attorney General has brought to this issue and the results of her raids- may bring more attention to this important safety issue.

Kathleen and Anonymous poster,

Thank you for your comments. It should also be reinforced that the Attorney General's office was quoted as saying these investigations have led to the conclusion that those nursing homes are an ideal hiding place for fugitives. This blog was presented with that statement as its focal point.

One consideration: look at the geographic areas that the facilities are in that have been found to be offenders with outstanding warrants. South Side of Chicago predominantly. Now look at the population demographic and societal demographics of the area those facilities are based in. You tell me that there are not the same percentage (Or higher) of people on the street with outstanding warrants or criminal background issues in some State walking around.

There is currently no way for any facility to determine or access outstanding warrant information. And by the way-if we are doing that are we going to ask community colleges to start checking background checks and outstanding warrants? After all our vulnerable and often naive teenagers are exposed to them there?

I resent the fact that you isolate the problem as a LTC problem instead of societal problem that impacts everyone, everywhere. Perhaps it justs helps you drum up business.

I find it interesting that the anonymous comments above came from a nursing home professional. I do not think that Mr. Rosenfeld is looking for work. He is simply stating that nursing homes in Illinois have had fugitives in their population.

I know that I myself as well as several other residents have wondered about the past lives of many residents here. I had no idea that social services and admissions did not look into the backgrounds of prospective residents. I know that when I was admitted it was not stated that a criminal background check would be done. So I don't know if one was done or not. But I would think that most residents would be willing to submit to background checks to ensure better security in their nursing home.

Now we know very little about the background of residence because of the H.I.P.P.A.Law. But sometimes we hear things anyway and we know that some residents have been drug users in the past. Sometimes I also wonder if we have residents here who might otherwise be in a correctional facility. Some have medical conditions that would make imprisonment dangerous for them.

Perhaps the anonymous author of the comments above should spend a couple 24/7 weeks in a nursing home to see if the topic of fugitives in facilities could still be so easily dismissed.