Shirley Ann House got a job at a Pensacola nursing home in 1996 despite a rap sheet with 31 criminal cases. A year later, an 84-year-old patient died after being hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage and multiple bruises. House admitted finding the patient on the floor three days earlier and said she "put her back in bed without telling anyone," a lawsuit alleged. House was charged with elder neglect. The nursing home, Palm Garden, had a copy of her criminal record in her personnel file, said Clay Mitchell, a Pensacola lawyer who sued the home on behalf of the patient's family. "The director of nursing stated at the time she learned of the criminal record, she told the administrator she needed to be terminated, and she wasn't," Mitchell said. "The administrator said he didnt recall the conversation." The nursing home also failed to check House's previous employment, according to the lawsuit, which was settled out of court. House had been fired from another nursing home because of a confirmed abuse report, court records say. House served two years in prison and was released in 2002. She could not be reached for comment. Records obtained by the Sun Sentinel show House applied to be a home health aide at Granny Nannies in the Panhandle in 2006. Linda Hyland, the agency's human resources director, said House signed a sworn statement saying she had no disqualifying criminal offenses. She attended a three-hour orientation, but did not visit any patients, Hyland said. "Once that background check came in, she was terminated."
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