After Taiwo Sobamowo allegedly posed fraudulently as a nurse and worked at the hospice care center where Bobbi Kristina Brown spent her last days, there’s been more focus on the state of Georgia and its lax laws when it comes to investigating unlicensed healthcare providers.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the issue of hiring fraudulent nurses wasn’t looked at in-depth until Sobamowo, 32, was arrested for working illegally at the Peachtree Christian Hospice center during the time when Bobbi Kristina resided there.
The impostor was among a team of nurses that cared for Bobbi Kristina. She fled from Georgia after working at the hospice center, but was arrested earlier this month in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was later transferred to Forsyth County, Georgia.
After state records were reviewed, it was discovered by AJC that the state of Georgia has a long pattern of not taking any action when these types of illegal activities are committed. This patterns spans not only for nursing, but throughout numerous organizations in the state.
For instance, health care facilities in Georgia weren’t required to report fraudulent caregivers and nurses to the state, and even if they were reported, the state Board of Nursing takes up to a year or more to investigate the incident.
The lack of fast response to fraudulent nurses in Georgia may be due in part that it’s only considered a misdemeanor crime. Authorities spend more resources and time on felony cases. Meanwhile, numerous patients in Georgia healthcare facilities have been treated by people claiming to be nurses yet without the experience and credentials needed to properly care for the sick and/or elderly.
The chief executive officer of the Georgia Nurses Association, Debbie Bartlett, said that more action should be taken to stop people such as Sobamowo from working illegally. Bartlett also stated that it’s not just a statewide problem, but a nationwide issue.
“We are very concerned about it. There need to be consequences. They need to be criminally prosecuted. It’s not a rare occurrence around the country.”
After the Sobamowo incident, Georgia lawmakers are beginning to address the state’s faults. State authorities recently added more funds and investigators to delve into fraudulent nursing home caregivers. The state now requires nursing homes and any other healthcare facilities to report any cases of illegal caregiving.
Part of the problem is that Georgia facilities and healthcare companies are failing to look for red flags during the hiring process. In 2014, the Homestead Hospice of Roswell hired Sobamowo to work as a nurse, but failed to look into the RN number she provided, which was allegedly stolen from a nurse at Grady Hospital who has a similar name to Sobamowo.
The Homestead Hospice of Roswell also failed to thoroughly probe into Sobamowo’s background prior to hiring her, which included previous charges of working as an unlicensed nurse. Consequently, she worked at numerous healthcare facilities in Georgia, making $75,000 a year.
According to Det. Fran Foster of the Duluth Police Department, Sobamowo had to sign numerous papers before beginning work, and she didn’t always remember to use the same name. Although this should have been a blaring sign that something was amiss, Homestead Hospice overlooked the signature discrepancies.
“All they had to do was Google her, and it would have been over.”
Homestead Hospice also failed to perform the required nurses’ background check on Sobamowo until after she’d already been working close to a year. Even then, the background was only conducted after a whistleblower alerted them.
While working at Peachtree Hospice Care, Sobamowo held several responsibilities while caring for Bobbi Kristina, including administering narcotics intravenously to the comatose 22-year-old. She also provided grief counseling to Bobbi Kristina’s family, and when the young reality star passed away, Sobamowo called a religious grief counselor for the family.
So far, there’s been no identifiable link between Sobamowo and Bobbi Kristina Brown, but the alleged fraudulent nurse remains behind bars in the Forsyth County Jail in Georgia. The investigation is still ongoing.
[Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Images]