Lawmakers agree to double fines against assisted living facilities

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RICHMOND, Va. — A bill that would increase the amount of civil penalties the Virginia Department of Social Services could assess against an assisted living facility passed both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly unanimously on Wednesday. It now awaits a signature from the governor before becoming law.

The bill, SB 1191, was introduced by Senator Glen Sturtevant (R-Richmond) after a CBS 6 investigation into conditions at assisted living facilities in Virginia.

The bill would increase the maximum amount of fines DSS can impose on a facility from $10,000 every two years, to $10,000 every year.

“I felt it important that we revise this part of the code, bring it up to what I consider to be modern standards,” Sturtevant said last month.

But advocates for changes at assisted living facilities (ALFs) in Virginia called the bill a good first step, but not enough.

“I just don’t think money penalties really mean anything to them, they’re companies, corporations,” Cathy Wilson, who has a friend living in a a memory care unit, said.

She would like to see legislators change a state rule that requires just two direct care staff members in a dementia unit no matter the number of residents.

Sturtevant, at the time, said that was something he would not support.

“We want to be able to give every facility the ability to meet the needs of their residents and patients without having undo government interference looking over the shoulder of these facilities,” he said.

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