PBC caregivers must be licensed by April 4

Healthcare providers voice their concerns

The home nursing industry in Palm Beach county undergoes a major shift, as all homecare aides for the elderly and disabled will need to be fingerprinted and licensed, effective April 4th, following an ordinance passed by county commissioners.

Some healthcare providers, however, express concern about the new ordinance, which may discourage Caribbean immigrants from becoming certified nursing aides (CNA) – a group that has long formed the bedrock of the profession

“Although we were aware the writing was on the wall, we were still hoping for a possible intervention that would prevent this requirement,” said Loretta Percy, a Haitian-American owner and operator of a Boca Raton nursing agency, and member of the Home Care Association of Florida.

Perry said she’s concerned that potential capable caregivers will be unable to provide the required documents, such as a valid driver’s license or a passport, to get the license.

“Moreover, some potential applicants may be weary of the licensing application process because they may have had minor legal problems, fearing this could reflect on their immigration status in the U.S.,” say Percy.

Francine Legister, a Florida Department of Health field compliance investigator, said the licensing requirement is entirely a county initiative, nothing to do with the state.

However, “the DHHS has already taken steps to ensure caregivers meet specific criteria to ensure they are ethical and in no way comprise the safety or health of their patients,” noted Legister. “Nursing agencies and registries are monitored closely to ensure caregivers meet set criteria, including being checked for criminal records, verification of certificates, and having liability insurance.”

The Palm Beach County Commission decision to initiate the licensing requirement responded to reports of unethical caregivers victimized their patients in their homes through theft and other abuses.

Effective April 4, caregivers working in Palm Beach County must obtain a Palm Beach County Home Caregiver License from the Palm Beach County Consumer Affairs Division. Applicants who have already undergone a National Fingerprint Based Check through the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) may present an affidavit nursing agency or registry that they were previously fingerprinted when they apply for the license.





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