CHICAGO (CBS) — They were hired to be in-home caregivers. Now, they are accused of abusing those vulnerable people.
Surprisingly, they are able to continue working as home health workers, CBS 2’s Dave Savini reports.
Stephanie Hartley, a home health care worker and nurse, is charged with aggravated battery of a child, for allegedly abusing a child she was being paid to care for.
She is accused of battering 8-year-old Giovanny Negrete, who suffers from Spina Bifida and needs a tracheotomy tube to breathe. The boy says Hartley repeatedly hit him.
Negrete says she hit him because of a full diaper. After bruises appeared on his chest and thigh, he told his mother, Alyssa Negrete.
“It’s not fair,” she says. “He’s defenseless.”
Update, Jan. 26, 2012: Stephanie Hartley has been found not guilty of abusing Giovanny Negrete.
Hartley still has a valid state license as an LPN, or practical nurse, and can still work in homes. The state does not have the power to take immediate action against her or any LPN like regulators can do with other professions, such as doctors.
Regulators are trying to fix that problem.
“I have to deal with my son, who had somebody who hurt him, and now it feels like she’s getting away with it,” Alyssa Negrete says.
She says she never would have allowed Hartley in her home had she known something else the 2 Investigators uncovered: Hartley has a 2000 drug conviction and a 2001 conviction for theft.
Hartley is not the only LPN to continue to work after incidents happened.
Kelley Dettloff’s home health care nightmare involved Jadwiga Pacholczyk-Kaczor, who was hired to care for her 98-year-old grandmother, Lucy Seligman. It only took one week for things to get out hand, says the victim’s daughter, Linda Smith.
Smith says the home health worker appeared disoriented and appeared under the influence of something. Later, the family discovered pills missing from her mother’s pain medication bottles.
“Well I was shocked,” Smith says. “I mean, I didn’t know what to do.”
She called police and the agency that provided Pacholczyk-Kaczor. The family thought she would not be allowed to work in any other homes.
But then they learned Pacholczyk-Kaczor went to work for a new home health agency, was hired by another family and arrested for abusing an elderly client.
“It made me very upset,” Dettloff says. “Because I knew the lengths that my mom went to, to try to report her.”
There is a state healthcare worker registry to report problems with caregivers. If allegations are proven true, their names go on what is basically a “do-not-hire” list.
Neither woman in this report is on the list, even though they have prior convictions.
The best advice is to check out references and check county court records for criminal complaints.
To report a caregiver call 1(800) 252-4343.