Wichita More than a dozen sex offenders are living in Kansas nursing homes, a newspaper found, and officials said there is no system to alert the facilities when they are moving in.
The Wichita Eagle reported Sunday that some state officials are wondering if it’s time to regulate who is allowed to live in those homes or at least provide some protections.
Secretary of Aging Shawn Sullivan said at present nursing homes in Kansas have no way of knowing when they are about to admit a registered offender.
“I’m not aware of any mechanism in place by the KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigation) or anybody else that notifies a nursing home if a person on the registry ends up moving into that environment,” he said.
The KBI registry shows that 19 of the 5,868 people on the registry last week listed a nursing home as their residence, the newspaper found. The sex offenders, who range in age from 43 to 82, have been convicted of crimes that include indecent exposure and rape. At one point, seven sex offenders lived in a single Wichita facility before being moved to new locations in Kansas and Missouri.
Among those seven, four came from Oklahoma, where a law passed in 2008 calls for the creation of a nursing home exclusively for those convicted of sex crimes. But Wes Bledsoe of Oklahoma City, who runs a long-term care advocacy group, said there were no takers when the state sought bids from those who might want to run the home.
Bledsoe said he thinks every state needs to build a separate facility for aging sex offenders.
“I think these guys need a place to go to,” he said of the offenders. “But I don’t think you want them living across the hall from grandma or grandpa, or maybe even being grandpa’s roommate.”
State Rep. Bob Bethell, R-Alden, has been in the nursing home business for more than 25 years. He said it’s logical to assume that as sex offenders grow old, some will need the type of care offered only in a nursing home.
“We want to make sure they get the care they need, but we also want to make sure individuals in nursing facilities get the protection they need,” he said.
Mitzi McFatrich, executive director of Kansas Advocates for Better Care, said some states have laws that provide for an isolated facility for sex offenders, while others place notification requirements that must be met when an offender moves into a home.
“We really haven’t taken any steps in the state of Kansas to address the issue,” she said.