Sava Senior Care, a national nursing home chain with 4 locations in Illinois, is at the center of a lawsuit accusing them of illegally evicting residents at 6 of their California facilities. The lawsuit, filed by residents who had each been dumped from a Sava nursing home, is seeking a injunction to prevent the chain from illegally evicting other nursing home residents, as well as damages. Some residents were essentially left homeless, with two of the 6 said to have been in poor health that made their eviction dangerous. One was left at a motel and then ended up in the hospital for emergency surgery.
Federal law requires nursing homes to give residents 30 days notice of their decision to evict them from the facility, as well as the opportunity to appeal the decision. That same notice must also be given to the state long-term care ombudsman, an elder rights representative assigned in every state. If the resident chooses to appeal a discharge, they cannot be relocated before a decision has been reached. The nursing home must also give a thorough and specific explanation as to why they cannot care for the resident, if that is the stated reason for the discharge. They must also assist in arrangements for a transfer, either to the resident’s home or to another home or skilled nursing facility, including sharing care plan details with intake facilities.
The lawsuit against Sava Senior Care alleges that they evicted residents without following federal laws requiring sending notice to an ombudsman, as well as not providing an opportunity for appeal.
Resident Dumping Happens for Variety of Reasons
Last year, Illinois and Maryland were identified as being the two worst states for patient dumping, also known as involuntary discharge. Illinois was identified as having doubled their number of nursing home evictions in the past 5 years. Evictions can be justified, provided they meet one or more of the below criteria as set forth by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):
- The facility cannot meet the resident’s needs
- The resident no longer needs nursing facility services
- The resident’s presence endangers the safety of others in the facility
- The resident’s presence endangers the health of others in the facility
- The resident has failed to pay
- The facility is closing
However, many nursing homes evicting residents are engaging in patient dumping for monetary reasons. One of the major named factors is evicting a Medicaid resident to make room for a Medicare resident. Medicare reimburses nursing homes at a higher rate than Medicaid, making them an attractive prospect for a nursing home. Many facilities have also been accused of dumping these same Medicare patients as soon as their nursing home benefits run out. In general, Medicare covers up to 100 days of skilled nursing care per illness. Medicare does not cover nursing home stays for those who need general care such as assistance with bathing and medications.
Regardless of the reason for dumping or discharging a resident, proper notice must be given to the appropriate parties, a valid reason must be given, and the resident must be given the chance to appeal the decision.
Illinois Sava Senior Care Facility Allowed Fentanyl Patches to Go Missing
One of Sava’s Illinois skilled nursing facilities, Westchester Health and Rehab, made news last year when a package of fentanyl patches was sent to ABC I-Team investigative reporter Chuck Goudie. The package contained a cryptic note that said “these lay around like candy.” The box of fentanyl patches had a label with a pharmacy and patient’s name. It also had a Westchester Health stamp on it. The patient, who is now deceased, was a resident at Westchester Health and Rehab up until her death. The pharmacy who provides medication carts to the nursing home said that the facility had been instructed to carefully dispense and monitor the pills, including locking the cart when not in use. Levin & Perconti founding partner Steven M. Levin was asked by ABC7 news to comment on the package of fentanyl and described the situation as something akin to drug dealing. The nursing home, owned by Sava Senior Care, declined to respond to questions from ABC 7’s I-Team.
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