Nursing home chain with local ties resolve allegations with DOJ

The Department of Justice (DOJ) says that two nursing home chains in Western Washington have resolved allegations they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying admission to prospective residents because of their Substance Use Disorder (SUD). 

One of the nursing home groups resolved a second ADA complaint that it failed to provide a sign-language interpreter for a patient who is deaf.

Avalon Health Care Management Inc. manages three care centers in Western Washington: Avalon Care Center Federal Way; Benson Heights Rehabilitation Center; and Grays Harbor Health and Rehabilitation. 

The company previously managed Willapa Harbor Health and Rehabilitation. 

According to officials, an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office determined that Avalon facilities engaged in discrimination by denying admission to individuals with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). The U.S. Attorney’s Office found that in some instances, patients were denied admission because they were prescribed FDA approved medication for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). 

As part of the settlement Avalon will submit a draft non-discrimination policy to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for review. After approval, Avalon will post the policy at its facilities and will train its employees and contractors on the policy and on medications to treat SUD. Avalon will keep training and admission logs for review by the government and will alert government investigators to any ADA complaints. 

Avalon is to pay the government $12,000. However, $10,000 of the penalty is suspended pending successful compliance with the requirements of the settlement.

Arcadia Medical Resorts operates two skilled nursing care facilities in Renton as well as facilities in University Place and Union Gap, Washington. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office investigation determined that individuals were denied admission to the Arcadia facilities because of their Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Arcadia agrees to update its policies and not discriminate against persons who have been prescribed medication for their Opioid Use Disorder. The chain will undertake new training and keep logs of training and patient admissions. Any ADA complaints will be forwarded to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Like Avalon, Arcadia will pay the government $12,000. However, $10,000 of the penalty is suspended pending successful compliance with the requirements of the settlement.

Finally, in a different settlement, Avalon Health Care – Federal Way LLC, has agreed to pay a patient who is deaf $20,500, for violating the ADA by failing to provide the patient with a qualified sign-language interpreter while the patient was recovering from back surgery. The patient was in the facility from February 18, 2021, to March 11, 2021. Avalon did not act on the patient’s requests for a sign-language interpreter so the patient could not communicate with staff about her treatment plan or physical therapy.

Avalon disputes many of the government findings, but to avoid the cost and uncertainty of litigation, is choosing to resolve the matter, according to the DOJ. 

The settlement requires Avalon to put training, policies, and procedures in place to ensure staff do not violate the ADA and provide appropriate communication devices or services to the patients who need such assistance. The settlement lists a number of required improvements regarding evaluations, contracting, dissemination of policies and complaint tracking. The government will review the compliance for 18 months.

The patient who is deaf was referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office by the Northwest Justice Project.