Important victory for residents’ rights

When two residents at a nursing home in Santa Cruz got eviction notices last March, they decided to fight them. They called Linda Robinson of Advocacy Inc., a Santa Cruz nonprofit, to help them file appeals with the state Department of Health Services. A little more than a year later, the issue is being resolved according to an April 11 memo signed by Kathleen Billingsley, deputy director of the state health department.

The April 11 memo affects nearly 900 nursing home patients in Santa Cruz County as well as 1,400 nursing homes statewide with more than 133,000 beds.

“In a year, dozens, maybe hundreds, of [eviction] notices are sent,” Connors said. “They get issued way too often in my experience. Patients have the right to be protected from arbitrary transfers”

Billingsley’s April 11 memo to district managers covered policy and procedures for appealing eviction notices. It also said staff must receive training to make sure policy and procedures are followed.

Last year, a lawsuit was filed, complaining about a backlog of nursing-home complaints. This month, a state auditor, reporting on 17,000 complaints filed over two years, said the department had not completed about 60 percent of its investigations in a timely fashion.