Chapter 7.54
SKILLED NURSING FACILITIES AND INTERMEDIATE CARE FACILITIES

Sections:

7.54.010    Findings and purpose.

7.54.020    Definitions.

7.54.030    Admission policies and practices.

7.54.040    Admission agreements.

7.54.050    Consumer notices.

7.54.060    Violations and penalties.

7.54.070    Severability.

7.54.010 Findings and purpose.

There are elderly and disabled residents of Santa Cruz who are in need of long-term skilled or intermediate nursing home care, but who are unable or restricted from gaining admission to such facilities located in this County. It is essential that such individuals receive complete and accurate information concerning the admissions policies at such facilities and that those policies be fair, lawful and nondiscriminatory. Further, the decision to enter a long-term care nursing facility is often made in haste and under emotional and financial pressures, resulting in confusion or misunderstanding by applicants and/or their families concerning the terms and conditions under which they are entering a facility. Therefore, the Board of Supervisors finds and declares it necessary to enact this chapter to protect the applicants and residents of skilled and intermediate care nursing facilities located in Santa Cruz County, and to prevent misunderstanding and conflicts between the applicants or residents and such facilities. [Ord. 3764 § 1, 1986].

7.54.020 Definitions.

The following words and phrases, whenever used in this chapter, shall be defined as follows:

(A)    “Applicant” means:

(1)    An individual who has requested that he or she be admitted to a skilled nursing facility or intermediate care facility, or any person who has made a request on behalf of another person; or

(2)    An individual who has, on his or her own behalf or on behalf of another individual, requested information from a skilled nursing facility or intermediate care facility concerning its admissions policies or has inquired into the likelihood of the admission of a particular individual into such facility.

(B)    “Facility” means skilled nursing facility and/or intermediate care facility as defined in this section.

(C)    “Intermediate care facility” means all facilities as defined in California Health and Safety Code Section 1250(d), and which are located in the unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County.

(D)    “Skilled nursing facility” means all facilities as defined in California Health and Safety Code Section 1250(c), and which are located in the unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County. [Ord. 3764 § 1, 1986].

7.54.030 Admission policies and practices.

(A)    Written Policies. All criteria and policies utilized by a skilled nursing facility or intermediate care facility in determining the admissibility of an applicant for admission to the facility must be clearly stated in writing.

(B)    Dissemination of Policies. A copy of the facility’s current admission policies shall be supplied to the following:

(1)    All applicants for admission who visit the facility;

(2)    The Santa Cruz County Commission on Nursing Home Care, once each year or when revised if sooner;

(3)    The Santa Cruz County office of the State Nursing Home Ombudsman/Advocate, once each year or when revised if sooner; and

(4)    All acute care hospitals in Santa Cruz County.

(C)    Admission Denials. All denials of admission to a skilled nursing facility or intermediate care facility shall be based on the criteria contained in the facility’s written admissions policies. Upon request, a written statement of the reason(s) for the denial shall be provided to the applicant.

(D)    Unlawful Bases for Denial of Admission. No applicant shall be denied admission to a facility solely because no other person is willing to:

(1)    Accept personal financial liability for any of the facility’s charges; or

(2)    Promise to oversee the applicant’s business or personal affairs, such as payment of the applicant’s share of the facility’s charges; unless the applicant is unwilling to do so or has demonstrated an inability to do so. [Ord. 3764 § 1, 1986].

7.54.040 Admission agreements.

No skilled nursing facility or intermediate care facility shall include in its admission agreement(s) any of the following terms or conditions:

(A)    A waiver of all liability for loss or theft of residents’ property or for harm to residents’ health or welfare where the loss or harm is caused by the negligence or intentional act of facility employees;

(B)    A requirement that a resident have a co-signer, or any third-party guarantor of payment of the facility’s charges; provided, however, that a facility may ask for, but may not require as a condition of admission, a third-party guarantor for a maximum of 60 days’ worth of charges;

(C)    A waiver of any rights guaranteed by Federal and/or California law and regulations; or

(D)    A waiver of the right to sue the facility; however, an agreement may provide for binding arbitration at the resident’s option. [Ord. 3764 § 1, 1986].

7.54.050 Consumer notices.

Any skilled nursing facility or intermediate care facility shall post a notice in substantially the following form in an obvious and conspicuous location in each resident’s room:

RESIDENTS OF THIS FACILITY MAY CALL THE FOLLOWING OFFICES FOR FREE ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE CONCERNING THEIR RIGHTS AS NURSING HOME RESIDENTS:

(1)    CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, LICENSING AND CERTIFICATION DIVISION: (phone number)

(2)    OMBUDSMAN/ADVOCATE (phone number)

(3)    SENIOR CITIZENS’ LEGAL SERVICES

    SANTA CRUZ: (phone number)

    WATSONVILLE: (phone number)

The notice shall be posted so that it can be easily seen and read by all residents of the room. [Ord. 3764 § 1, 1986].

7.54.060 Violations and penalties.

(A)    Criminal Penalties. A violation of any of the provisions of this chapter is a misdemeanor and punishable as provided by this code.

(B)    Civil Remedies. Civil actions to enforce this chapter may be brought by the County Counsel, District Attorney or any other aggrieved party. The plaintiff shall recover damages of not less than $100.00 and not more than $5,000 for each violation, and an injunction may be issued to prevent further violations. A prevailing plaintiff shall recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. [Ord. 3764 § 1, 1986].

7.54.070 Severability.

If any provision, clause, sentence or paragraph of this chapter or the application thereof to any person or circumstance shall be held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect the other provisions of this chapter which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this chapter are declared to be severable. [Ord. 3764 § 1, 1986].