WARREN - SCOPE of Trumbull County, no stranger to controversy, is embroiled in it again, this time for not meeting state requirements, according to the Ohio Department of Aging.
The state's notice of hearing details five administrative charges against the senior service provider and will determine whether ''to impose a fiscal sanction, suspend or revoke your long-term agency provider certification, or impose another sanction,'' a letter from the state to SCOPE says.
SCOPE board members Thursday agreed to request a hearing to address the charges. The agency has to file in writing their request for a hearing within 30 days of the notice.
The state's letter alleges the agency did not do required criminal background checks for 22 workers hired in direct care positions and did not in a timely manner have background checks done for 29 other workers.
The other allegations are allowing an employee who was not a licensed registered or licensed practical nurse to give supervising services as a home care nurse; not keeping an adequate criminal background check log; and hiring two workers with criminal convictions that could have disqualified them from employment without determining the likelihood that the person would commit another disqualifying offense.
ODA spokesman John Ratliff said the issues raised in the state's letter are administrative charges, not just issues of non-compliance.
''It is a disciplinary issue,'' Ratliff said.
A Thursday news release states the agency ''is taking steps to correct deficiencies'' cited by ODA, which according to board member Garland Bradshaw, includes addressing the issues at the ODA hearing and contacting the state to ''ask for clarification and what we need to do to eliminate those issues.''
Bradshaw said some of the issues boil down to a question of interpretation, but ''obviously five days to apply for a criminal background check is five days.''
Executive Director Janet Schweitzer flatly disagrees with some of the allegations.
In the issue surrounding the nurse, for instance, Schweitzer said the employee, who was working toward being licensed, was not supervising, but being supervised by registered and licensed practical nurses.
''They are asking us to comply, and we are planning to do that,'' Schweitzer said. ''I want that very clear, we are planning to comply.''
Also, SCOPE is no longer allowed to provide under the PASSPORT program, a Medicaid-funded program that provides services like transportation, personal care, homemaker, adult day care and others.
The state asked the Area Agency on Aging 11, which does oversight for this program for service providers, to remove all PASSPORT consumers from SCOPE, said Lisa Solley, area agency spokeswoman. Those 42 people must chose an alternative, qualified provider.
In November, the area agency stopped referring PASSPORT consumers to SCOPE, also at the direction of the state, Solley said.
Bradshaw said, ''We are not permitted to provide those services pending resolution of the sanctions.''
The area agency board will be meeting 1 p.m. today to review the contracts it has with SCOPE.
SCOPE and controversy are familiar. In March, SCOPE came under fire by some people who are members of the its Cortland branch, who claimed they were shut out of a board meeting. However, nonprofit boards like SCOPE's aren't required under Ohio law to hold public meetings.
Schweitzer said then that the board is working on ways to create better communication with the members and among staff.