PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two Western Washington nursing home chains have agreed to change company policy after the Department of Justice determined that their facilities were violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by turning away patients with substance abuse issues.

Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman said that Avalon Health Care Management Inc. and Arcadia Medical Resorts made the changes after the DOJ fined the companies $12,000 for discriminating against people suffering from substance use disorder. In some cases, the U.S. Attorney’s Office found that the companies were specifically rejecting patients prescribed FDA-approved medication for opioid use disorder.

“It can be difficult to find appropriate nursing home care for our loved ones,” Gorman said. “It should not be made more difficult by care centers who discriminate against those with disabilities, violating the ADA. I am pleased that both skilled nursing groups identified in these cases are changing their policies and training to comply with the ADA.”

In addition to the substance abuse discrimination claims, Avalon Health Care – Federal Way, LLC was fined an additional $20,500 for allegedly failing to provide a sign-language interpreter for a deaf patient. The DOJ said that the woman was never given an interpreter while she was recovering from back surgery between February 18 and March 11 of 2021. 

“Avalon did not act on the patient’s requests for a sign-language interpreter so the patient could not communicate with staff about her treatment plan or physical therapy,” the DOJ said. “Avalon disputes many of the government findings, but to avoid the cost and uncertainty of litigation, is choosing to resolve the matter.”

The DOJ said that fines against both companies will be reduced to $2,000 if they are found compliant of the requirements outlined in their agreed-upon settlements. The conditions of the agreement will be considered met following the completion of an 18-month government review.

Avalon Health Care Management Inc. manages Avalon Care Center Federal Way, Benson Heights Rehabilitation Center and Grays Harbor Health and Rehabilitation in Western Washington. The company also previously managed Willapa Harbor Health and Rehabilitation. Arcadia Medical Resorts runs two nursing homes in Renton, Wash. and centers in University Place and Union Gap, Wash.