Civil Rights Enforcement Examples Involving HIV/AIDS
Windsor Rosewood Care Center, LLC (WRCC) (CA) - OCR Region IX entered into a Settlement Agreement with WRCC to ensure that individuals with HIV/AIDS have equal access to its skilled nursing facility, as required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. After receiving an administrative complaint from the Contra Costa HIV Legal Service Project and conducting a comprehensive investigation, OCR issued a Violation Letter of Finding to WRCC, concluding that when it was owned and operated by Helios Healthcare, LLC, the skilled nursing facility violated Section 504 by denying admission to a Medicaid beneficiary because he was HIV-positive. Under the Settlement Agreement, WRCC will establish non-discrimination, reasonable accommodation, and universal precautions policies; report to OCR for an eighteen month period; implement patient grievance procedures; and inform patients of their right to file with OCR and have their discrimination complaints investigated. In addition, WRCC supervisory staff will receive comprehensive training from the Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center, which is funded by the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration, through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009. Read the HHS Press Release(Spanish) Read the Letter of Finding Read the Settlement Agreement Read OCR Director's "Guest Blog" on AIDS.gov
Austin Orthopaedic Surgeon (TX) - OCR Region VI secured a Settlement Agreement with an orthopaedic surgeon in Austin, Texas, to ensure that individuals living with HIV/AIDS have equal access to medially appropriate treatment. After receiving an administrative complaint against the orthopaedic surgeon and conducting a thorough investigation, OCR issued a Letter of Finding, concluding that the surgeon violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, when he declined to perform knee surgery on an HIV-positive Latino male patient and instead referred the patient to another surgeon 200 miles away. Under the settlement agreement, the orthopaedic surgeon, whose practice group sees an average of 200 patients per week, agreed that he and his staff will not deny or withhold medically appropriate treatment from patients solely because they are HIV-positive. In addition, the surgeon will establish a non-discrimination policy, make reasonable modifications to his procedures to avoid discrimination against individuals living with HIV/AIDS, receive comprehensive training, implement patient grievance procedures, and inform patients of their right to file a complaint with OCR. Read the Letter of Finding Read the Settlement Agreement Read the HHS Press Release
HospitalBuen Samaritano (P.R.) – OCR Region II secured Voluntary Corrective Action to substantially improve access to care for persons with HIV/AIDS at Hospital Buen Samaritano in Puerto Rico. After OCR’s site visit, the Hospital, which serves seven Puerto Rico Municipalities with a total population of 300,000, hired a full-time Infectious Disease Specialist to care for persons with HIV disease; employed an Emergency Room Facilitator to address long wait times; revised its Emergency Room triage policy; reinstituted community outreach initiatives; and developed and implemented a grievance procedure to achieve compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
A.T. Associates, Inc. (CA) - OCR Region IX secured Corrective Action at A.T. Associates’ nursing home chain to make approximately 200 additional nursing home beds available to persons with HIV/AIDS in Northern California. OCR investigated the complaint, which was filed by an African-American veteran who attempted to get admitted to an A. T. Associates nursing home after hip-replacement surgery. However, because of the complainant’s HIV status and young age, the nursing home refused to admit him. After completing the investigation, OCR intervened and required the nursing home chain (which consists of three Northern California skilled nursing facilities) to: (1) issue to all staff a new nondiscrimination policy expressly prohibiting HIV/AIDS discrimination and place the new policy in patient brochures; (2) provide annual mandatory staff training on the new nondiscrimination policy, procedures for admitting persons with HIV/AIDS, universal precautions, and the protection of patients’ health information privacy; (3) notify hospital discharge planners that its facilities now admit otherwise qualified persons with HIV/AIDS; and (4) affirm its compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975. Read the A.T. Associates Closure Letter
Milwaukee Orthopedic Surgeon (MI) - OCR Region V secured Voluntary Corrective Action to ensure equal access for individuals with HIV/AIDS. The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin filed an administrative complaint with OCR alleging that in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a Milwaukee orthopedic surgeon declined to perform surgery on the Affected Party after he tested positive for HIV. During the OCR investigation, the surgeon chose to resolve the complaint voluntarily and agreed to: (1) seek the opinion of an infectious diseased specialist before ruling out a course of treatment for a patient with HIV/AIDS; (2) implement a non-discrimination policy; (3) notify patients of the non-discrimination policy; (4) establish an HIV testing and counseling policy, consistent with the recommendations of the CDC; and (5) receive comprehensive HIV training from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Lexington Health Care Center of Chicago Ridge (MI) - OCR Region V achieved Corrective Action to ensure equal access to a skilled nursing facility for individuals with HIV/AIDS. The AIDS Legal Council of Chicago filed an administrative complaint with OCR alleging that in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Lexington Chicago Ridge, a 224 bed skilled nursing facility, discriminated against the Affected Party by denying him admission to the facility because he is HIV-positive. After OCR investigated the complaint, Lexington Chicago Ridge agreed to: (1) develop a non-discriminatory, open admissions policy; (2) disseminate its open admissions policy to twenty-three of its referral sources; (3) provide its infection control procedures to OCR for approval; and (4) train its staff in the OCR-approved infection control procedures.