Maryland Legal Aid staff attorney Anne Haffner
A nursing home resident with multiple sclerosis and threatened with involuntary discharge because of an outstanding bill will be allowed to stay, Baltimore’s WBAL-TV reported on Friday. Melanie Conaway’s attorney, Maryland Legal Aid staff attorney Anne Haffner, successfully negotiated an agreement with the facility, Future Care Northpoint in Dundalk. “We were prepared to go into a hearing and lose the hearing and be faced with a difficult decision about where Mrs. Conaway was going to be living,” Haffner told WBAL investigative reporter Barry Simms.
But under a last-minute settlement, Conaway will remain at the nursing home. “She said she was just so happy she would be able to stay and get her medical needs met at this nursing home,” Haffner said in the news segment. “The settlement agreement allows Mrs. Conaway to stay while we pursue a judgment against her ex-husband.”
The whole dispute focused on a $300 a month payment–alimony Conaway is supposed to receive from a divorce settlement in Tennessee. The funds are considered income and must be used for her nursing home stay, Simms reported.
Maryland Legal Aid’s Long Term Care Legal Assistance Project gave a three-hour presentation October 22 to new state long-term care ombudsmen at a four-day training in Baltimore. The ombudsmen are advocates for nursing home residents across the state.
“We have an informal partnership with them,” explained Harbour Partesotti, supervising attorney of the statewide Legal Aid project and a presenter at the training. “Some cases are better resolved by ombudsmen because they have unique relationships with the facilities. We refer those cases to them. They then refer cases to us when they hit a wall and need a legal remedy. We support each other in carrying out our shared goal of ensuring nursing home residents’ rights throughout the State.”
The training, conducted by Partesotti and LTCAP staff attorney Anne Haffner, focused on residents’ rights (both state and federal), admissions contracts, abuse and neglect reporting requirements and involuntary discharge (“a very important topic with potentially dire consequences for this vulnerable population,” Partesotti noted).