Zach Shamberg

Pennsylvania nursing homes are promoting a new proposal that would require providers to notify staff, residents and residents’ families when a registered sex offender is admitted into a facility. 

House Bill 2341, or Megan’s Law, also would require all nursing homes to check the sex-offender registry before admitting any new resident and develop a plan of care to ensure staff and other residents’ safety. 

The legislation was proposed by state Rep. Robert Matzie (D), who consulted the Pennsylvania Health Care Association. Matzie on Sunday expressed confidence that the measure would get assigned to a committee and gain traction from other lawmakers.

“While it’s already common practice for providers to conduct Megan’s Law checks on individuals seeking care at a long-term care facility — and alert staff in care plans regarding an individual’s background — we believe a uniform standard throughout the commonwealth will ensure such a policy is in effect in all nursing homes to help further increase the safety of our residents and staff,” Zach Shamberg, PHCA president and CEO, told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Monday. 

About 10 other states have similar legislation that requires the reporting of sexual offenders in nursing homes. Shamberg said most laws, however, rely on an individual or referring entity to be forthcoming with the information. 

This legislation instead would require nursing home providers to conduct their own research of patients and, if accepting the referral for admission,  inform others who are living or working in the nursing home about the individual.

“This information is already public, but the proposed legislation would help deliver the information directly to those caring for and living with a registered offender,” Shamberg said. 

He added that long-term care is something that everyone might need, “no matter one’s background or history.” 

“Providers are introduced to people in need of care during their later stages of life, and it is up to the provider to decide if they can put forward the level of care needed for each individual, without infringing on the care of other residents,” he said.