Proposed bill increases penalties to assisted living facilities, advocates want more

Posted at 10:31 PM, Jan 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-12 23:17:16-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Advocates for changes at assisted living facilities (ALFs) in Virginia said a new bill submitted by State Senator Glen Sturtevant to increase maximum penalties issued by the state to ALFs is a good first step, but not enough.

Cathy Wilson, whose friend Shirley Norwood has dementia and lives in a memory care unit at an ALF, said she’s happy with her friend’s current home, but did not like her previous ALFs.

Wilson said there was not enough staff to care for all the dementia residents, which was a complaint brought to CBS 6 investigative reporter Melissa Hipolit’s attention numerous times before.

assisted living

One of those people, Carol Garbo, whose mother went to the ER five times in the 11 weeks she lived at an assisted living facility in Chesterfield.

Now, six months after her story aired, Sturtevant is pushing a bill that would increase the penalties imposed on assisted living homes.

Garbo will testify at a hearing on the bill next week.

“To hear about all of these really sad and horrible things had happened to her mom really struck a chord with me,” Sturtevant said.

Currently, the maximum the state can penalize an assisted living facility is $10,000 over a two year period.

Carol Garbo and her mother

Carol Garbo and her mother

With the new legislation, the state could impose a $10,000 maximum penalty every year.

“I felt it important that we revise this part of the code, bring it up to what I consider to be modern standards,” Sturtevant said.

Both Garbo and Wilson said the legislation is a start, but it doesn’t go far enough.

“I just don’t think money penalties really mean anything to them, they’re companies, corporations,” Wilson said.

Both hope legislators will also consider changing a state rule that requires just two direct care staff members in a dementia unit no matter the number of residents.


State Senator Glen Sturtevant

But, Sturtevant said, at this point, that’s not something he would support.

“We want to be able to give every facility the ability to meet the needs of their residents and patients without having undo government interference looking over the shoulder of these facilities,” Sturtevant said.

A group of women, including Garbo and Wilson, who met during the course of our investigation, will be attending lobby day at the General Assembly on Monday, January 16, to push for more changes.

If you are interested in joining them, contact Melissa Hipolit, and she will put you in touch with them.

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