NEW CASTLE (KDKA) — Imagine discovering that a home health care aide, sent to care for your loved one, is facing serious criminal charges.
When her husband became debilitated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, Margaret Egetoe qualified for a state-administered program for home health care.
But imagine her distress when she found out the home health aide, Jada Strayhorn, had been busted only months for possession with the intent to sell 301 stamp bags of heroin.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “Alarmed?”
Margaret Egetoe: “Alarmed, yeah… that she was in my house.”
And now a state senator wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“That’s just totally unacceptable, letting these kind of people into home where you have vulnerable citizens,” Pa. Senator Elder Vogel said.
Turns out Strayhorn had been a provisional employee, hired by a Murrysville agency called Dedicated Nursing Associates and allowed to work as an aide before a background check had been completed.
This week, Vogel is introducing a bill to make sure that background checks are done before a person is hired, to afford people like the Egetoes more protection.
“At some point in time you’re going to get in a worse situation than they ended up in, heaven forbid, and then we’re going to ask why didn’t we do something,” Vogel said.
It gets worse. Not only does Strayhorn have these pending charges — a quick check of her court records shows she has a long criminal history of convictions for forgery and passing bad checks. She also has a felony conviction for possession with intent to deliver drugs in 2012. Shocking news to Egetoe’s daughter, Christina.
“I was enraged,” she said. “I couldn’t believe that someone like that was sent to care for my mom and my dad and sent into my parents’ home.”
Until last year the drug offense alone that would have prohibited Strayhorn from practicing as a health aide in Pennsylvania, but the state Supreme Court has ruled that lifetime bans for health care workers are unconstitutional.
Going forward, Vogel wants to work with the state department of human services to establish reviews for aides with criminal records.
“Something has to be so egregious enough that regardless of whether you did your time or not, I don’t want you going into a vulnerable senior’s home,” Vogel said.