An assisted living center that's giving up its state license to avoid government oversight and regulation is facing $16,000 in additional fines.
At the same time, the family of a resident who was seriously injured at the facility is taking issue with claims made by the care center's owners.
The center plans to give up its license Sept. 14 and become an unregulated retirement home. The residents' medical services will be provided by home health agencies, one of which is unregulated and owned by the facility's parent company.
State advocates for seniors are concerned because the change will enable the company to deliver the same care to the same residents in the same building but without annual inspections, state oversight or sanctions for inadequate care.
Between February 2008 and February 2009, the state fined the home $16,500 for alleged problems with resident care. Some of those fines still are being appealed by the home's owner.
The state Department of Inspections and Appeals this week imposed another $16,000 in fines.
A department spokesman said additional sanctions are pending.
Company CEO said the $16,000 in fines represents the finalization of fines that were previously announced. "These aren't anything new," she said.
The state disagreed, and said the fines represent new sanctions that stem from a May inspection. They are the result of the facility's ongoing failure to correct staffing and medication problems that were noted on earlier visits, he said.
At a recent meeting with 250 residents and family members, the home administrator took issue with the state's allegation that one resident fell and wasn't discovered by the staff for 15 hours. She said that resident's family was supportive of the facility and upset that the state penalized the home.
The resident's daughter said that wasn't accurate.
"My father was on the floor for 15 hours, and they were supposed to have been checking on him. He broke his hip," she said. "He missed four meals and he told me later that he kept yelling for help but no one came."
She said she and the rest of the family are in favor of state oversight of assisted living centers.
"If it wasn't for the state, it's possible that none of these problems would have come out, and then no one would know," she said.
The daughter also said that at one time the home didn't have a registered nurse on staff, but the administrator assured her there were two nurses on call.
"And it was only when I pressed them and asked where those on-call nurses lived that they admitted one lived in Wisconsin and the other lived in Nebraska," she said. "That's why we need state oversight."
The woman's father died in March, four months after surgery was performed to repair his hip. For more, read the story.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.