Avalon Care Center, a nursing home in Modesto, was recently assessed a whopping 29 citations by the State Department of Public Health (DPH) for engaging in a reprehensible and systematic illegal eviction program to force out undesirable “long-term” residents. The facility was in the process of being sold in 2015 when word spread that the new owner wanted to “convert the facility to a sub-acute setting” and “didn’t want long-term care residents.” It is increasingly common for nursing homes to focus their care on higher paying therapy residents at the expense of poorer long term or “custodial” residents.
Avalon Care Center staff set on a mission to purge all residents considered long-term. Some of the residents had lived at the facility for years. In all, at least 29 residents were evicted from July through December 2015. None of the residents were provided the legally required written discharge notice, none were properly prepared and oriented before being moved, and discharge planning was almost nonexistent. Most importantly, none of the residents were informed of their right to stay at Avalon regardless of the sale. As a result of the haphazard and unnecessary discharges, most of the residents suffered negative health and psychological consequences.
Among the mass eviction lowlights as described by the DPH citations:
- A male resident was discharged to an out of state nursing home over 900 miles away. His family was forced to scrape together funds for airfare to get the resident and a family member chaperone to the new nursing home. On the morning of the flight, the resident was not given his medications, his bags were not packed, and he had not eaten. He was not given any disposable briefs despite being incontinent. He cried on the plane and sat in a wet and soiled brief for twelve hours. When the resident arrived at his new facility, he had an excoriated buttocks and perineum.
- A female resident was moved to a different nursing home after living at Avalon for 12 years. Despite her long residency and significant care needs, she was not given any preparation or orientation prior to transfer. The resident stated that she felt she “didn’t have a choice” and had to leave. Upon arriving at the new nursing home, she became depressed and “did nothing but cry.” She even engaged in a hunger strike, losing nine percent of her body weight in one month. Eventually she was readmitted to the facility.
- A male resident was discharged to his pregnant daughter’s mobile home. He had multiple physical disabilities, requiring two people to assist him with many activities of daily living. Three months later, the resident had declined, was riddled with bedsores, and his daughter was overwhelmed, stating “we can’t do this anymore.”
In addition, several residents were sent to other nursing homes with only a day’s notice or sent to facilities that were farther away from family and friends. Many of the discharged residents expressed sentiments that they had been “kicked out” or very poorly treated. The continuity of their care was shattered and their trust broken.
Avalon Care Center is rated one star out of five on the federal government’s five-star rating system. It was recently re-named Valley Subacute & Rehabilitation Center.