Who Owns that Nursing Home, Anyway?
Nursing homes often change names and ownership to hide a shady history of abuse, neglect, and fraud. When nursing homes change names and ownership, it makes it difficult for loved ones to discover the true extent of the facility’s problems. More often than not, it is the same old problems under a new name that victimizes nursing home residents.
Rebranding Nursing Homes in America
In 2016, Harvard University conducted a study that indicated nursing homes in America were changing ownership at an alarming rate. From 1993 to 2010, more than 1,500 facilities in the United States changed ownership. Of these, a significant number had a history of safety violations and lawsuits.
Who Really Owns the Facility?
It isn’t always clear who owns a nursing home facility. That is because many are hidden beneath complex ownership structures. Often, large corporations place ownership of the facility under a new, smaller corporation. When the facility’s Medicare certification is terminated or a lawsuit is lost, the company or corporation may shutter doors and reopen under a new name but with the same management.
While the Affordable Care Act included transparency provisions that were intended to make these connections clear, those provisions have not yet been implemented. Identifying the true owner of a facility involves identifying which portfolio the facility falls within. It can be a time consuming and confusing process to untangle the web corporations have built around facilities with a shady history and spotty patient safety record.
Protecting Loved Ones
Family members have to work extra hard to protect their loved ones against shady operators who have used the law to hide their activities and failings from the public. While many facility owners argue that quality of care and treatment improves when ownership changes hands, the opposite is true. In fact, changing names does nothing to improve the adherence to safety protocols, infection control procedures, etc. These problems persist long after the ink on the letterhead is dry.
Family members should always research the history of any facility they depend on for their loved one’s care. This means investigating whether the facility has a history of abuse, neglect, fines, and both criminal and civil legal action. Many times this investigation determines the facility is owned by a distant corporate entity that profits from the abuse and neglect that occurs in facilities they operate around the country.