Ruling: Nursing home resident can’t be banished to homeless shelter


One of the duties of a long-term care Ombudsman is to help residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities when they are evicted (or discharged) from their home. The Ohio law specifically states the Ombudsman is available to assist residents who are being discharged to help fight the discharge and/or make certain residents are transferred to a safe location.

Ohio law specifically states that a resident who is being discharged from a nursing home must be given 30 days’ notice, so there is enough time to find a new nursing home or other long-term care facility that is safe for the resident. In one recent case, a resident at a nursing home was being discharged and contacted the Ombudsman office for help.

The Ombudsman office received a phone call from a nursing home resident and was informed they were being discharged and had just been handed a 30-day “Discharge Notice” by staff at the nursing home. Every discharge notice must identify the date the resident will be transferred and a proposed location where the individual will be discharged. In this particular case the resident was being discharged to a homeless shelter.

The Ombudsman quickly scheduled a time to meet with the individual and obtained their permission to file an appeal of the discharge. The Ombudsman discovered during this meeting the resident was behind in payments to the nursing home and that the resident had several serious medical conditions, including dementia, and was paralyzed in both legs. The resident uses a wheelchair.

The Ombudsman then filed a “Notice of Appeal” of the discharge and requested a hearing. The appeal was sent to the Ohio Department of Health, which manages all nursing home discharge appeals. A hearing was quickly scheduled and a hearing officer was assigned. Hearing officers are licensed Ohio attorneys who work as independent contractors for the Ohio Department of Health to decide whether a discharge should or should not be permitted. The hearing was scheduled. The Ombudsman met with the resident on two separate occasions to prepare for the hearing.

The discharge hearing began at 1:30 p.m. and lasted approximately two hours. It is an informal hearing, usually conducted in a conference room at the nursing home, and is tape recorded. The nursing home went first and presented their reasons for discharge, which focused primarily on late payments by the resident. The Ombudsman, who advocated on behalf of the resident, focused on the nursing home’s duty to safely discharge the resident. The Ombudsman advocated that a homeless shelter was not a safe discharge location for an individual unable to walk, had mild dementia, and currently took 17 prescription medications. The nursing home stated they had searched for an alternative nursing home for the resident but no facility was willing or able to currently accept the individual as a resident. The hearing officer stated he would take the matter under advisement and issue a decision within five business days, as is required under Ohio law.

The hearing officer’s decision arrived by certified mail and concluded the nursing home was not permitted to discharge the resident to a homeless shelter, which was clearly an unsafe location for the resident. The Ombudsman then went to see the resident and deliver the news they would not be transferred to homeless shelter and, equally important, would not have to leave their home of several years. The individual was extremely grateful for the help provided by the Ombudsman’s office.

The Ombudsman Column, a production of the Joint Office of Citizens’ Complaints, summarizes selected problems that citizens have had with government services, schools and nursing homes in the Dayton area. Contact the Ombudsman by writing to the Beerman Building, 11 W. Monument Avenue, Suite 606, Dayton 45402, or telephone 937-223-4613, or by electronic mail at ombudsman@dayton-ombudsman.org . Additionally, please “like” us on Facebook at “Dayton Ombudsman Office.”



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