Ohio’s Hands-Off Assisted Living Approach Leaves the Elderly at Risk

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

By Lisa S. Cummings

An assisted living facility, alternative to nursing homes has become a multibillion-dollar industry involving about 750,000 American seniors. These facilities are meant to provide housing and meals to elderly people, those who cannot live on their own any longer. Deadly consequences can occur if they are not appropriately supervised. Did you know that in the State law in Ohio, it is not require for the Ohio Department of Health to be alerted by an assisted living facility when a resident dies under questionable circumstances?

According to an article posted in pbs.org, workers in an assisted living facility near Cleveland left 82-year-old Vincenzina Pontoni to drown while she was bathing. Unaware of how Pontoni died, the Department of Health was notified by an investigating reporter for Frontline and ProPublica. A department spokeswoman, Tessie Pollock said “it did not appear that any regulation had been violated by the Cleveland Facility”. Most states set a low entry bar for facility workers, such as not requiring licensed nurses or staff members. It is also stated that these facilities receive relatively less outside monitoring, compared to nursing homes. Most states impose fines for violation of safety standards. Former governor of Kansas, Mark Parkinson, who is now the president of National Center for Assisted Living states that “The issue becomes at what level do you regulate it? And our position has been that it’s better to do it at the state level”.

This quality of state regulation for safeguarding seniors in assisted living has great impacted outcomes. If you or someone has been unsupervised or neglected in some way, please contact our law firm.

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