Ohio Governor John Kasich may be pushing for more at-home health care for those in need, but a Channel 3 News investigation found that you need to closely examine the backgrounds of home health aides before allowing them into your home.
Since January of 2010, the state has received 470 complaints against home health agencies and their employees. Howard Ransom, of Sandusky, had no idea he invited a convicted thief into his home to care for his wife, who underwent nine brain surgeries.
"If you're going to have in-home providers, you might as well throw the towel in and pick up hitchhikers because you're not going to be any worse off and you might be safer," Ransom said.
Ransom says home health aide Christine Johnson found the combination to his home safe and made off with $25,000 in cash.
Johnson told the Investigator Tom Meyer that Ransom's wife gave her a loan. But she was convicted of theft and says her employer, Heritage Health Care, dismissed her.
Prior to taking care of Ransom's wife, Johnson was busted for stealing a prescribed painkiller from the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky. When asked if they had checked Johnson's background, an employee at Heritage Health Care refused to answer questions.
"In some countries, they would have cut her hands off at the wrists for stealing and made sure she lived so she couldn't steal again," Ransom said.
On the first day that Rosalind Robinson began caring for Laura Bebsz in Strongsville, Robinson was arrested on a probation violation by police at Bebsz's home.
Robinson was convicted of stealing $700 in cash and another $100 in gift cards from another individual before she was placed in Bebsz' home. Bebsz filed a police report, accusing Robinson of stealing some limited edition collectible silver dollars.
"I'm devastated. I'm violated. Now I'm scared to let anyone inside my home. I need constant help, " Bebsz said.
Horizon Health Care in Cleveland said it fingerprints applicants and checks to see if they have felony records. The agency explained that Robinson, while charged with felony theft, pleaded to a misdemeanor theft offense.
The provider said it hired Robinson despite her conviction because they believe people deserve a second chance, even those who care for people who can't take care of themselves.
In most cases, convicted felons are not allowed to work as home health care workers. There's a list of more than 100 criminal offenses, including theft and robbery, that prevent someone from becoming or remaining a provider.
Home health care agencies which receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursements are monitored by two state agencies. Those home health agencies which are privately funded are not subject to government inspections. The state says it has no idea how many unregulated agencies exist in Ohio.