Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

ATTORNEY GENERAL SEEKS APPOINTMENT OF OMBUDSMAN TO PROTECT NURSING HOME RESIDENTS FOLLOWING COMPANY'S BANKRUPTCY

Ground-breaking proposal aimed at protecting residents and ensuring quality care

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Dallas to set a new standard by appointing an ombudsman to oversee resident and patient care following the bankruptcy of a major nursing home company. Senior Living Properties, which operates 51 facilities in Texas, filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in May 2002.

Cornyn's request for an ombudsman is a first in Texas history.

"While a number of attorneys are looking out for the interests of creditors in this bankruptcy proceeding, I believe the affected nursing home residents also deserve a designated advocate who can represent them before the court," Attorney General Cornyn said. "I'm concerned that the Texans who rely on these facilities for their health and well-being won't get the attention they deserve at the expense of a company's financial failure."

Residents and patients are usually among those most affected by the mergers, acquisitions, closings and consolidations that occur after a nursing home company goes out of business. Bankruptcy laws give the attorney general's office the authority to intervene on behalf of consumers. Cornyn is asking the court to adopt a mechanism contained in pending congressional legislation that would require the appointment of an ombudsman in cases of nursing home bankruptcies.

"Patients and residents undoubtedly have sincere concerns about the continuity and quality of their care during the company's reorganization," Cornyn said. "Having their own court-appointed advocate is an effective way to protect those very legitimate patient interests."

The Bankruptcy Court has set a hearing for July 16 to consider Cornyn's request. Senior Properties, based in Carmel, Indiana, also operates 29 facilities in Illinois.

Since taking office in 1999, Cornyn has worked aggressively to protect the rights of senior Texans through consumer protection efforts, crime prevention initiatives, and imposing civil penalties on nursing home and assisted living facilities that fail to safeguard the health and safety of their residents.

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