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Long-term care

December 13, 2009
Letters to the Editor

On behalf of the more than 400 volunteer long-term care ombudsmen statewide who advocate for improved quality of life and care for residents, I am writing to share a concern about a growing trend in Florida's nursing homes: the improper transfer or discharge of nursing home residents.

Proper resident transfer and discharge processes are crucial to protecting the safety and ensuring the well-being of elders who live in nursing homes. When a nursing home initiates the transfer or discharge of a resident who has lived there at least 30 days, facility staff must provide the resident with a written 30-day notice of the transfer or discharge, unless certain conditions exist.

Under state and federal law, residents may only be discharged for one of six specified reasons, including if they fall behind in payments, if they are endangering themselves or others, or if the facility is unable to provide adequate care for their needs.

All residents have the right to file a request for a fair hearing to appeal a discharge. If a resident has reason to believe he or she has grounds for such an appeal, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program encourages these individuals to file a request for hearing within the first 10 days of receiving the notice. Acting within the initial 10 day window allows a resident to remain in the current facility until the hearing is concluded. An ombudsman volunteer can assist in the hearing process as well as represent residents at the hearing.

If you or a loved one have concerns about a transfer or discharge notice or any other issues concerning a long-term care facility resident, call us toll-free at 1-888-831-0404 or visit us online at http://ombudsman.myflorida.com.

BRIAN LEE
Tallahassee
Lee is state ombudsman.