Statewide patient advocates say improper involuntary discharges are the top complaint filed against nursing homes.
The advocates will push again this year to enact stricter legislation that guards against improper discharges affecting patients such as West, according to Jamie Freschi, Illinois’ long-term care ombudsman and the State Journal-Register.
The legislation, introduced in the General Assembly last year, didn’t receive a vote of the full House or Senate.
Nursing homes and assisted-living centers in Illinois are allowed to discharge people against their will for reasons that include mental and physical health, behavior and lack of payment.
Long-term care facilities are required by federal law to give 30 days’ notice before evicting someone. That time period allows residents, their families and advocates such as ombudsmen the opportunity to trigger appeals that can lead to hearings decided by a third party, Freschi said.
But notice often isn’t given, leaving nursing home residents stranded in hospitals while nursing homes immediately evict them or give no reason or inadequate reasons for not taking them back, she said.
Long-term care facilities also sometimes pressure residents and their families to leave by making vague statements that a facility isn’t equipped to care for a resident any longer, she said. In those cases, ombudsmen aren’t notified so there’s no chance to educate residents and their relatives about their rights, she said.
A bill expected to be introduced in the next few weeks will again include language to “give voice to our most vulnerable population” when nursing homes and assisted-living centers want to evict people they view as bothersome or difficult to care for, Freschi said.
Read the full story of Susan West and the state of nursing homes in Illinois at the State Journal-Register.