The Des Moines Register reported the investigation and charges filed against Emeritus (one of the nation’s largest senior living companies) for operating an unlicensed assisted living facility and misrepresenting their licensure status to the public. Emeritus at Silver Pines is a Cedar Rapids home licensed as a residential care facility that can provide personal assistance and supervision, but no nursing care. Over the past 30 months, the owners of the 72-bed facility have allegedly promoted the home as an assisted living center that is authorized, equipped and staffed to provide residents with a relatively high level of medical assistance and care. The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals has temporarily barred the home from accepting new residents, imposed a $13,000 fine and ordered the owners to hire a new administrator.
Emeritus is the nation’s largest assisted-living company, with annual revenue of $900 million. It operates 308 senior-living communities in 36 states, with a total potential capacity for 32,300 residents. The chain recently purchased an additional 140 homes from the bankrupt Sun West chain of care facilities.
Emeritus could face criminal charges for falsely claiming to be a state-licensed assisted living center. It’s a crime in Iowa for a company to falsely claim that it’s a state-licensed assisted living facility, h, and the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals plans to refer the matter to county prosecutors for consideration of criminal charges.
Disabled Iowans – some near death and in need of constant supervision or skilled nursing care – signed contracts with the home that specifically described the facility as "licensed by the state of Iowa as an assisted-living facility." In some cases, residents were referred to Emeritus by physicians who were led to believe that the home was licensed to provide skilled nursing care.
Company records indicate the home has been charging each of the residents up to $3,800 per month in fees. In at least one instance, it allegedly charged a resident $10,000 as a nonrefundable "move-in fee."
The company’s false claims should have been uncovered in March when inspectors visited the home. Emeritus was cited for having two residents whose medical needs could be met only by an assisted living center or a nursing home. The home promised that in the future it would only admit people who were suitable for a residential care facility. In July, inspectors revisited the home in response to a complaint and saw the problem was much larger in scope than they had previously believed. For at least 30 months, the home had been holding itself out as an assisted living center. Some of the residents were being treated for cancer, kidney failure and severe dementia. Some were receiving hospice care. In all, 17 residents were judged to be in need of care above and beyond what could be legally provided by the home.
State inspectors determined the home’s new administrator, hired just a few weeks before, had no education or experience pertaining to the management of a residential care facility and didn’t meet the minimum legal requirements to run such a facility.
The home’s website and automated telephone system continued to promote the home as "the assisted living community of choice."
Emeritus Senior Living owns two other Iowa care facilities: Northpark Place Senior Living Community in Sioux City, a residential care facility the company purchased on Aug. 5, and Emeritus of Urbandale, a fully licensed assisted living facility that has faced numerous sanctions from the state in the past 18 months. At one point, the Urbandale facility’s on-call registered nurse was a company official who lived in Urbana, Ill., a six-hour drive away.
One employee of the Urbandale facility allegedly admitted to inspectors that she had destroyed a patient’s medical records and then created new, fictional reports to conceal the fact that a dying resident’s children had to administer medication to their parent on several occasions because no nurse was available in the facility.
The Urbandale home has also been cited for housing a violent individual who assaulted and sexually fondled other residents over a period of several days until police were called and he was escorted from the building.