Nursing home residents have rights. While this may seem obvious, it is important to remember. One of the rights nursing home residents have is protection from eviction unless there is good cause. What if a nursing home resident needs to be treated at a hospital? Do they enjoy the same right to come back to the nursing facility they called “home” prior to their hospitalization?
A recent segment on NPR tackled this issue. The piece covers the case of Bruce Anderson, a California man who has been calling a room at the Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento his home since May 28, 2015. That’s approximately 260 days. Despite the fact that he has long been rid of the pneumonia that landed him in the hospital in the first place, Norwood Pines, the nursing home where he formerly resided, refuses to re-admit him. Because Mr. Anderson receives public benefits to cover the cost of his health care, the State of California has paid an exorbitant price for his hospital stay which has cost the State much more than the equivalent amount of time in the nursing home would have.
Norwood Pines claims that Mr. Anderson is dangerous to their staff and to other residents at the facility. One good cause for discharging a resident from a nursing facility is that the resident puts the safety of others in the facility in danger.[i]
Interestingly, Mr. Anderson was not discharged from Norwood Pines because of his behavior. Instead, this is the reason the facility offers for their refusal to take him back. This is an important distinction because it illustrates the fact that there is a difference between a decision to admit a resident and the decision to discharge a resident. In this case, it begs to question whether residents such as Mr. Anderson should be afforded more protection when they are seeking re-admission to a facility they formerly called home.
Mr. Anderson successfully appealed and Norwood Pines has been ordered to re-admit him but they have not done so to date. Mr. Anderson has continued his pursuit to be re-admitted through the Federal court system hoping he will have success in forcing Norwood Pines to honor the current court order and re-admit him.
This case illustrates the importance of nursing home residents and their families understanding that they have rights. While most nursing homes treat their residents with respect and provide them with appropriate care, issues in this arena are inevitable. Residents and their families must be diligent.
A great resource to brush up on or learn more about the rights afforded to nursing home residents is called 20 Common Nursing Home Problems – and How To Resolve Them by Eric Carlson of Justice in Aging. You can register for a free copy of the guide online for free by clicking here. I reference this guide fairly frequently and like to provide it to clients when they report issues or concerns about a facility. Often, I find that their issues are addressed in the guide.
To listen to or read the NPR story discussed in this article, click here.
[i] 42 U.S. Code § 1395i-3(c)(2)(A)(iii)