SACRAMENTO – The Superior Court of the State of California issued a final order January 3, holding that a facility’s refusal to accept a resident back from the hospital “constitutes an involuntary transfer under state and federal law,” and triggers an obligation to follow requirements for discharging a resident. This order is the final ruling in a case brought in 2017 by Gloria Single against her nursing facility Cathedral Pioneer Church Homes II (Pioneer House). Ms. Single was represented by AARP Foundation and BraunHagey & Borden LLP (BHB).
By law, nursing facilities are required to hold a resident’s bed if they are transferred to the hospital and can only discharge residents against their will under limited circumstances. Facilities must provide 30 days’ notice and an opportunity for a hearing before discharging a resident.
“This court order reinforces that residents of nursing facilities have the right to return to where they live following a hospital stay,” said William Alvarado Rivera, Senior Vice President of Litigation at AARP Foundation. “While Gloria Single passed away before the case was resolved, we hope her legacy will be greater respect for and—when necessary—stronger enforcement of these rights and protections in California and across the country.”
AARP Foundation and BHB attorneys sued Pioneer House and five related facilities in California, their parent entity Retirement Housing Foundation, and associated management companies. Pioneer House, in Sacramento, Calif., sent Ms. Single to the hospital for a psychological evaluation and refused to readmit her even when she was cleared by the hospital to return. Ms. Single’s son represented her in an administrative hearing challenging the illegal discharge, and won, but the facility still refused to take Ms. Single back. As a result, Ms. Single lived in a hospital for several months while her son searched for a new nursing facility. During that time, she lost much of her cognitive and physical abilities and passed away in 2019. She was never reunited with her husband, who was also a resident at Pioneer House and died while the lawsuit was pending.
About AARP Foundation
AARP Foundation works to end senior poverty by helping vulnerable people over 50 build economic opportunity. Our approach emphasizes equitable outcomes for populations that have faced systemic discrimination. As AARP's charitable affiliate, we serve AARP members and nonmembers alike. Through vigorous legal advocacy and evidence-based solutions, and by building supportive community connections, we foster resilience, advance equity, and restore hope. To learn more, visit aarpfoundation.org or follow @AARPFoundation on social media.