Residents Rights during COVID-19

submitted by Lindsay Heckler, Esq.

While the ban on visitors has turned nursing home and assisted living residents and their families lives upside down, we want the following to be clear: residents still have rights.

It has come to our attention that some nursing homes have been attempting to involuntary discharge/transfer residents to shelters, different nursing homes, and other locations. This is inappropriate and risks the health and safety of that resident, other residents, and the community at large.

If you (or someone you know) has received a written notice of discharge or have been told they need to leave their nursing home (this includes skilled nursing facilities and rehabilitation facilities) and you do not want to leave, you have the right to appeal the discharge and remain in the facility pending a hearing! While there is a call out for the NYS Department of Health to suspend involuntary discharge/transfers, unless the Department of Health acts, you must appeal the discharge/transfer in order to remain in your current nursing home. Contact our office to learn more about your rights and potential legal representation: 853-3087.

    Examples of inappropriate discharges/transfers:

Example 1: Resident entered Nursing Home A for short-term rehabilitation covered by Medicare. Medicare coverage exhausts, and resident is told they need long-term care and Nursing Home A does not have any long-term care beds. Nursing Home B has long-term care beds.

Response: Nursing homes in NYS cannot distinguish between short-term rehab beds and long-term care beds. While a nursing home can move the resident to a different wing/unit in the facility, it is against the law to move a resident to a different nursing home.

Example 2: Resident is told nursing home can no longer meet the resident’s needs or that the resident poses a danger to the health and safety of others, and transfers the resident to a hospital. Once hospitalized, nursing home refuses to readmit the resident.

Response: Refusing to readmit a resident from a hospital is against the law. Once the resident is appropriate to return to the nursing home, the nursing home must readmit the resident to the first available bed.

Example 3: Resident is told that they no longer need skilled nursing care and they are to be discharged to a shelter or a hotel.

Response: Nursing homes are required to involve the resident in discharge planning. This involves working with the resident to locate housing and coordinated referrals to agencies that can assist. In addition, all discharges/transfers must be to a safe location. Depending on the resident’s needs, it may be that a transfer to a shelter or hotel is not safe. (Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Additional information and guidance on a nursing home resident’s right to appeal a discharge is on our website and can be accessed:

For information about assisted living resident rights to appeal an eviction:

The above information pertains to only one of the many resident rights that remain in effect. We are here to help answer your questions and our services are free. Contact us today at 853-3087.

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