Seattle Post Intelligencer had an article about the recent increases in evictions in nursing homes.
Contact the Washington Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, call 800-562-6028, or visit ltcop.org/index.htm if you need help. The article reveals one example where a woman was evicting and died shortly after being evicted. Henderer grew depressed and refused to leave her room for meals. As her move approached, she quietly asked her guardian: "Why can’t I just die here?" Three days after moving out, Henderer’s congestive heart failure worsened. A month later, she died.
Health care costs rise (along with corporate profits) despite Medicaid rates not increasing. Quality of care gets compromised and nursing homes are forcing out sick, elderly and frail residents who cut into profits because they are too expensive to care for. No official data exist on eviction counts, but discharge complaints have climbed to record highs.
The Washington Long-Term Care Ombudsman program handled more than 700 such complaints last year, nearly a 50 percent increase over the year before. Nationally, discharge-related complaints have more than doubled in a decade — to 12,000 in 2007, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging.
Another woman evicted from West Woods wandered outside one night before her move, barefoot and in a nightgown, saying she wanted "to fall down and die in the cold," Ryan said.
In Grays Harbor County last year, an evicted mentally ill man left his boarding home a week after moving in, and was found dead near some railroad tracks. In other areas, evicted residents have ended up in homes nearly a hundred miles away from loved ones.
In 2007, Seattle University forced out 115 residents when it decided to convert its nursing home into office and class space. Three months later, 14 of the residents had died.
Social workers have a name for such a swift decline after a move: "transfer trauma."
Homes can legally evict a resident who fails to pay, becomes dangerous or has needs a home can’t meet. Federal law bars nursing homes from kicking out residents solely because of Medicaid so they often find some other excuse. Advocates say many homes find ways to bend the laws such as the broad "can’t meet needs" reason to force out difficult or expensive residents.
One of the most common types of eviction is when homes send a resident to the hospital and refuse to take him back, in a practice that resident advocates call "dumping." Advocates say that dumping rarely occurs to private-pay people, but to Medicaid residents such as Florence Wade, who had lived at the Regency at Tacoma Rehabilitation Center for roughly three years.
In January, Wade, 85, went to the hospital for pneumonia and a urinary tract infection. The nursing home refused to take her back, saying she had been uncooperative with caregivers in using a hydraulic lift to move her. The home then accused her of not doing a "bed hold" — which she never had to do in the past — and said the room was gone anyway. Someone else had moved in. The eviction left Arnold with one stressful option: a nursing home 45 minutes away — too far for regular visits from friends and family.
With assisted living costing residents $3,000 to $6,000 a month, and nursing homes costing up to $10,000 a month, homes still claim they lose money on each Medicaid resident. On average the state pays out about $5,000 a month for a nursing home resident,