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February 26, 2014

Abuse registry bill passes Senate

FRANKFORT —  Those who provide care for elderly or disabled adults soon may have a way to check to see if prospective hires have a history of abusing or neglecting the elderly.

    The state Senate Thursday passed a measure to create an adult abuse registry housed with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services that would list the names of those who have been found responsible in substantiated cases of abuse.

    Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, said she prefers the term “adult protection registry,” but she didn’t have any trouble passing the bill through the Senate 36-0.

    Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, D-Lexington, is sponsoring a similar bill in the House and the two appeared with Gov. Steve Beshear and legislative leaders of both chambers earlier Thursday to promote the bill.

    Under Gregory’s measure, the cabinet will create a registry of anyone with a charge of abuse or neglect that has been substantiated by the cabinet’s administrative hearing process. Those who are found to have committed abuse or neglect may appeal such rulings to circuit court, but if they accept the cabinet’s ruling or lose their appeal in court, their names will be listed.

    Employers of caregivers will be required to check to see if any prospective employee is listed on the registry. Job applicants may also ask the cabinet to forward the registry to prospective employers.

    “Currently there is no way for an employer to know if a prospective employee has a charge against them,” Gregory said. She told of a woman in an adult care facility who was regularly beaten by a caregiver who was later fired. But the caregiver was soon hired by another caregiver in the same region, Gregory said.

    “This is about protecting the elderly and disabled, vulnerable adults who are not in a position to protect themselves,” she said.

    At a morning press conference prior to the Senate action, Beshear said the registry won’t cost any additional money because an appropriation of $2.2 million for a registry is contained in the current budget.     That was done two years ago in anticipation of passing similar legislation but that measure didn’t make it through the General Assembly.

    Gregory, Palumbo, and Beshear were accompanied at the press conference by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and several lawmakers from both parties, all but ensuring its passage and enactment.

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