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Meth And Sex Offenders Pose A Quandary For Nursing Homes

June 28, 2010

CHARLESTON, W. Va. - Long-term care facilities in the state are seeing their client population change to include younger people, some of whom can pose problems. Tammy Jo Painter, vice-president of compliance at AMFM, the largest long-term-care company based in West Virginia, says nursing homes are seeing more people who have been meth addicts and have damaged their health. And she says they are seeing people who have been put on the sex offender registry.

"The drug abuse issue, if they don't require active treatment, just like with alcoholism, most nursing facilities will take that patient. The sex offender registry, those referrals, most facilities have policies that say they will not take those folks."

When they have space currently, Painter says most facilities base their decisions about who to take on medical issues, but she says they also have to consider the safety of their employees and other patients.

Jesse Samples, CEO of the West Virginia Health Care Association, says they don't know how many of these kinds of patients are in long-term care in the state now. He says the industry is considering special building wings for certain kinds of patients, but that's an expensive option. Short of that, he says they have to judge the individuals.

"Facilities look at the individuals that are in need of services on a case-by-case basis. There's no really easy answers on how to meet the needs of this population."

Samples says that in some cases, such as when a patient is bedridden, their legal status is of less importance.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV