New Rules Protect Elderly in Nursing Home Bankruptcies

Saying it plugs "a hole in the system," an assemblyman on Tuesday hailed the governor's approval of a measure prohibiting the unexpected eviction of nursing home residents in the event of the home's

Assemblyman Robert M. Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) said he wrote the bill, which goes into effect Jan. 1, after 63 residents of a Reseda nursing home were evicted last fall without warning, frightening patients and panicking their families.

The measure (AB 2141) requires that state health authorities be notified if a nursing home goes into bankruptcy and provides for the orderly transfer of residents to other facilities.

In the Sept. 26 eviction, families of elderly residents at the Reseda Care Center scrambled for housing after a court-appointed trustee ordered their eviction late on a Friday night.

California law currently requires 30 days notice prior to the closure of any health facility. However, the law applies only to licensed health care operators and does not extend to trustees acting in a bankruptcy.

The new measure requires the licensed operator to contact the state Department of Health Services, which regulates long-term care facilities, immediately after a petition of bankruptcy is filed. State officials are then required to inform the trustee of all procedures for operating or closing a facility, including proper notification of residents and their families.

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