Dubuque Retirement Community was the largest assisted living center in Iowa. It was run by Assisted Living Concepts, a Wisconsin for-profit-corporation that operates 216 care facilities in twenty states. Now, Assisted Living Concepts has given up its assisted-living license on the troubled 116-resident facility.
In its short two-year history as an assisted living center, Dubuque Retirement Community amassed several fines for failure to meet minimum government standards with respect to providing adequate resident care. For example:
- A $500 fine for having no hot water for three days in February 2008;
- A $2,000 fine in October 2008 for problems including staffing, food, and medication;
- A $4,000 fine in February 2009 for continued problems with medication and staffing, including a fifteen-hour delay in finding a resident who had fallen and broken a hip;
- Another $10,000 fine for medication errors and failure to employ trained staff.
In April of this year, government inspectors placed the Dubuque Retirement Community’s license on conditional status. Less than two months later, the facility announced its decision to abandon its license.
But that is not the end of the story. Assisted Living Concepts intends to continue to provide housing for seniors at the same facility as an independent living facility, acting as a “landlord” to the seniors. It will allow the former residents to enter into new contracts to pay separately for round-the-clock healthcare. The company that will provide medical care for residents is also a wholly-owned subsidiary of Assisted Living Concepts.
Assisted Living Concepts has severed the link of housing and medical care that triggers licensing and government oversight. It appears, therefore, to have found a loophole that allows it to avoid the rules and regulations that it was having trouble following, rules that are designed protect vulnerable residents of assisted living facilities.
Not surprisingly, an Iowa state representative has asked the state to monitor the facility and report back as to whether legislative action is needed. I can think of no reason why legislators should allow a loophole that allows facilities, particularly those that have been repeatedly cited and fined for sub-standard operations while licensed, to operate provide essentially the same services without the careful oversight of the government.
Source: Clark Kauffman, Assisted Living Center Changing Its Status to Avoid Licensing Rules, Des Moines Register (July 13, 2009).