Nursing Homes Must Notify Public of Closings, New Mass. Rules Say


The Public Health Council in Massachusetts has recently accepted a new set of guidelines that will require all nursing homes in the state to notify the public about changes in status. The rules, which have been pending for over a year, require that nursing homes provide ample advance notice before closing or selling so that concerned parties can be prepared for what such a change could mean.

The Boston Globe expands upon what this means for nursing homes and the public:

 Since January 2013, more than 56 Massachusetts nursing homes were sold and at least nine closed, by the state’s count, and the public has had scant opportunity to comment or even be alerted to the pending transactions.

“This is a big step in the right direction,” said Dr. Alan Woodward, a member of the Public Health Council, which adopted the final rules. The council — an appointed board of physicians, academics, and consumer advocates — helps the state health department set policy.

The rules, to take effect Jan. 1, require a nursing home intending to close to send written notice to the state health department four months in advance. A public hearing will be mandatory at least three months before the facility closes, and a closure plan must be distributed before that hearing to a long list of interested parties, including nursing home residents, their families, staff members, unions representing workers at the nursing home, elected state and local officials, and the offices of local and state ombudsmen.

The rules are not as strict for companies intending to sell a nursing home. Those companies would be required to notify the same list of interested parties, but a public hearing would be required only if at least 10 people petitioned the state health department.

The Council hopes that the new rules will help to increase transparency and goodwill between nursing homes and the public.


Photo by Bryan Mills via Flickr CC License 

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