The Connecticut Department of Public Health today announced it has launched a comprehensive background check program for direct care employees of nursing homes and other long-term care agencies that strengthens protections for the elderly and disabled residents.
The background check program helps nursing homes and other providers identify whether a job seeker has a disqualifying criminal conviction or other patient abuse or neglect information that could make him or her unsuitable to work directly with residents.
P.A. 11-242 established Connecticut’s program, along with grant funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for the National Background Check Program. Since then, DPH has worked with CMS and the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) to establish a web-based program called the Applicant Background Check Management System (ABCMS).
“With this system, Connecticut has implemented an important safeguard which will help protect the health and safety of some of our most vulnerable residents and clients,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “We owe a debt of gratitude to former state Senator Edith Prague for sponsoring legislation authorizing the program, as well as our colleagues at CMS, DESPP, OPM, and the staff at DPH for their dedication and tireless efforts to ensure its successful implementation.”
State law requires that a national background check be conducted for each prospective direct patient care employee or volunteer, which must include a history search of both state and federal criminal records, abuse and neglect registries and databases such as the Connecticut Nurse Aide Registry.
The ABCMS provides long-term care facilities and providers with a web portal to submit information on potential direct care employees or volunteers of long-term care facilities and to obtain fingerprint-based criminal history records checks, as well as checks of several relevant registries, prior to hiring for employment. Long-term care facilities subject to the background check program must register with the ABCMS.
“The ABCMS represents a cutting edge background check management service which allows both the agency and long term care providers the ability to track the background check status on applicants in real time,” said DPH Principal Attorney Matthew Antonetti, who leads DPH’s management of the program. “In our first two weeks of operation, we processed over 300 fingerprint-based background checks.”
Long term care facilities or providers covered under the new program include nursing homes, residential care homes, home health agencies, assisted living services agencies, intermediate care facilities for persons with intellectual disabilities, long-term care hospitals and hospice providers. DPH will oversee the ABCMS, while DESPP works with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to support the fingerprinting and criminal history record checks under this program.