CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources program, WV CARES, launched August 1, 2015 to protect those in long-term care facilities around the state is already being touted as a success. WV CARES, which stands for West Virginia Clearance for Access: Registry and Employment Screening, requires applicants for jobs at long-term care facilities to be fingerprinted for not only a state background check, but a federal background check as well.
In less than two months, nine applicants were flagged as not eligible for employment. Three of those flagged were wanted for crimes in other states.
“We quickly notified State Police when the system flagged the three wanted persons. WV CARES was able to turn over the information to the State Police for further investigation which lead to the arrest of one in less than two hours,” said Meghan Shears, WV CARES Program Manager.
The program is administered by DHHR and in partnership with the West Virginia State Police Criminal Investigation Bureau.
“We want to thank the West Virginia State Police for their quick response and diligence in this matter,” said Karen L. Bowling, WV DHHR Cabinet Secretary. ”This initiative shows West Virginia is serious about protecting our most vulnerable residents from the potential for abuse, neglect and exploitation by an individual with certain criminal histories.”
West Virginia’s long-term care facilities are home to approximately 12,000 residents and employ roughly 18,000 direct access workers.
The new checks are required of all prospective direct access personnel who apply for positions in the following provider types: skilled nursing facilities; nursing facilities; home health agencies; providers of hospice care, long-term care hospitals, personal care services, adult day care; and residential care providers that arrange for or directly provide long-term care services, including assisted living facilities, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
The program is being phased-in and all providers will be using the new screening system by the beginning of 2016.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who has sought safeguards to protect the health and welfare of vulnerable populations, signed legislation creating the program on April 2, 2015.
West Virginia is one of 26 states and territories that received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for the National Background Check Program (NBCP).