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New AZ law prevents convicted felons from running nursing homes

On Friday,  Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation that will prohibit a convicted felon from running a nursing home or assisted-living facility. 

Before, Arizona’s Board of Nursing Care Institution Administrators and Assisted Living Facility Managers could consider applicants with  “criminal issues.” 

That’s likely why an operator in Prescott was given his license despite two felony convictions. 

Last year, state investigators said the operator forced symptomatic, COVID-19-positive employees to work. Fifteen residents later died.

Karen Barno is the president and CEO of Arizona assisted living Federation of America.

"And what it did is it exposed a gap," she said. "The NCIA board can only look at certain things when they ran fingerprints. They were only statutorily allowed to look at certain things. So that lit the fuse."

Dana Kennedy is the state director of AARP Arizona. She says it’s a step in the right direction.

"And we do hope that it's a comprehensive background check system that reviews entries in all pertinent registries, for example, sex offender, state criminal databases, and the FBI is national repository of criminal history records."

The bill now prohibits individuals with a felony conviction involving violence or financial fraud from getting a license.

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.