On Nov. 20, 2015, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed emergency regulations requiring health care providers to obtain national criminal background checks on new employees and other individuals who provide direct one-on-one care to elderly residents or patrons in order to renew the facility’s license to operate in the state. More than 1,300 providers will be required to obtain national criminal background checks for new employees.

According to Gov. Beshear, the regulation is based on a federal law allowing national criminal background checks and will ensure thorough tracking of the histories of perpetrators of crimes against vulnerable populations, whether it occurred in the state of Kentucky or elsewhere across the United States. Kentucky previously only required name-based background checks, which did not provide information on crimes committed in other states, despite more than 800 complaints against long-term health care providers related to suspected abuse and/or exploitation of residents since May 2014.

The state implemented a voluntary fingerprint background check program in 2014 and has reported receiving positive feedback for ease of use, cost effectiveness and speed of results.  More than 2,200 background checks have been done since the program launched, and has actually screened out offenders with convictions in states outside of Kentucky.

Nevada is one of 41 states requiring home health agencies to conduct fingerprint background checks on prospective employees.  Of those 41 states, only 11 states, including Nevada, require FBI and statewide criminal background checks for all individuals in home health care. In Nevada, individuals are allowed to work before the results are in. Those fingerprint background checks conducted by the Nevada Criminal History Central Repository of the Department of Public Safety require approximately 45 days for processing.

We have met the technical security requirements to transmit fingerprints to the Nevada Department of Public Safety through an encrypted, secure network, and can reduce wait time from 45 days to less than one week, which reduces the time in which someone who has committed a crime against vulnerable populations will be in contact with your loved ones.

We applaud Gov. Beshear’s actions and ask you to think about those people in your life who are, or someday will be, among those requiring care from strangers, and ask yourself if you would want to know that the people caring for your loved ones have been thoroughly and quickly screened.

We can help all health care providers to speed up the background check process, and encourage you to ask whether the people caring for your loved ones have been cleared to interact with patients or are still awaiting results.

Wouldn’t you rather be sure?