What genius thought nursing homes and prisoners were a good mix?

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John O'Connor
John O'Connor

It's hardly a secret that many nursing home employees were once convicted of crimes. But facilities generally don't accept inmates still serving time, with perhaps one notable exception.

According to a report in The Oklahoman, Buena Vista Care and Rehabilitation Center housed inmates for a month. This happened in late 2011, after the felons had been injured in a prison riot. And it appears the temporary lodging arrangement will prove costly for the facility, which was fined $168,000 by state officials.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health concluded that housing convicts was a “bizarre and reckless” act that put other residents in immediate jeopardy. At first glance, it's hard to disagree.

As much as I admire and respect this industry, I don't think I'd want people currently serving time for rape and murder (which was the case here) in the same confines as a loved one. Would you?

But it should be noted that the inmates did not exactly have run of the place. They were reportedly under guard and shackled to their beds the entire time. (I guess that raises the matter of whether restraint citations were warranted, but why get picky?)

There's no denying that skilled nursing facilities are no longer just for old, frail people. It's not uncommon for people who haven't yet received their AARP cards to get rehab care at SNFs. The same can be said for others who happen to be quite overweight. In some states, children reside in skilled care settings. And as operators seek new and innovative ways to remain solvent, traditional demographics will likely be skewed even more.

I'm not sure where the line should be drawn when it comes to acceptable resident admissions. But I'm fairly certain that “inmate” crosses it. Frankly, the facility never should have agreed to such an arrangement.

That noted, I'm not without empathy for the affected inmates. Look at the year they endured: First, they were already doing hard time in a prison. Second, a riot broke out at the penitentiary, causing them serious harm. Adding insult to injury, they were then relocated to a skilled facility for a month — only to be put back in prison once they had recovered. Not exactly the Club Med experience.

Probably not the way they thought they'd be paying their debt to society.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.