SNF reaches agreement to resolve claims it wrongfully discharged HIV-positive resident

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An Oklahoma skilled nursing facility has reached an agreement with federal officials to remedy a complaint that it discharged a resident after finding out she was HIV positive, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights announced Friday.

Heritage Hills Living & Rehabilitation in McAlester, OK, allegedly discharged a “seriously ill” patient in late 2015 after learning her HIV status, violating provisions of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Affordable Care Act.

The facility agreed to resolve the complaint after the OCR began its investigation, agency officials said. A call for comment from Heritage Hills was not returned by production deadline Friday.

As part of the resolution, Heritage Hills will be required to report admissions and discharge data to OCR for one year, appoint a Civil Rights Coordinator, publish a new non-discrimination policy, create a new patient grievance procedure and train staff on HIV/AIDS. The facility also will have to revise its admissions policy to ensure all residents are given equal access to all of the facility's programs and services.

“It is heart-wrenching to see a seriously ill person ejected from a federally funded medical facility simply because they were HIV positive,” said OCR Director Roger Severino in a statement. “Such conduct is not only tragic, it is illegal, and as our investigation and resolution of this complaint demonstrates, OCR is committed to ensuring that persons with disabilities — including those with HIV/AIDS — are afforded equal access to healthcare.”