Senate Committee Approves New Type of Nursing Home

by David Gorn

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A new idea elbowed its way into the familiar pile of health care legislation in the Senate Committee on Health yesterday. A nursing home model -- the "Green House Project" -- bucks the cold, institutional feel of many long-term care facilities.

"SB 1228 is a transformative bill that will eliminate red tape and save money. It is a revolutionary model of care," Senate member Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose) said, presenting her bill to the committee yesterday.

"It puts the 'home' back into nursing home," Alquist said.

The idea is to have a small facility laid out like a regular home, with living areas such as a dining room and kitchen, as well as a private room and bathroom for each patient. The problem is, Alquist said, California's regulatory framework doesn't allow the concept.

"The current statutory framework in California is [based on] the old model of care," Alquist said, "for traditional, institutional nursing homes."

David Pierce of Mt. San Antonio Gardens, a continuing care center in Pomona, said his organization has been pursuing approval to create a Green House home for years.

"We have actively sought approval to build Green House homes," Pierce said. "We have educated, discussed and negotiated with agencies since 2008. Our approval process has been slow-paced and frustrating. And we do not have final approval to date."

"I'm glad to move this bill," Senate member Lois Wolk (D-Davis) said. "It is an excellent idea."

"We've been moving toward this goal of having more home-like care in people's elder years," Alquist said. "I think we need to get going in this area."

The bill had no organized opposition at the hearing, and passed on a 6-3 vote. It now heads to Appropriations.


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