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Eight nursing homes sue to stop enforcement of Ruthie's Law

Posted at 2:44 PM, Feb 21, 2020

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Eight local nursing homes and long-term health care providers have filed a lawsuit against Erie County to challenge the implementation of Ruthie’s Law, which requires homes to inform a designated individual within two hours after a resident suffers an injury requiring hospital treatment.

The law was approved by the Erie County Legislature in 2017 in response to the 2016 death of Ruth Murray, who was beaten by another patient at Emerald South on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Emerald South has since shut down.

But the The New York State Health Facilities Association, which is also part of the suit, claims the reporting requirements are “costly” and “burdensome,” and are a duplication of requirements already “imposed on them by state and federal law.”

NYSHFA President and CEO Stephen Hanse said he understood the “good intentions of Erie County legislators when they enacted the local law.” But Hanse noted that State law gives the New York State Department of Health exclusive regulatory authority over nursing homes and hospitals and specifically prohibits local governments from regulating such facilities.

“We have reached out to the county authorities in an effort to resolve this matter without litigation, but unfortunately Erie County appears to be adamant in proceeding to enforce the law and fine these facilities. We regret having to take this action, but they have left us no choice,” Hanse said. “NYSHFA is especially disturbed by unjust and misleading accusations that nursing homes are breaking a local law when it is the county that is violating a state law.”

The following are the nursing homes in Erie County included in the lawsuit:

  • Elderwood at Amherst
  • Elderwood at Cheektowaga
  • Elderwood at Grand Island
  • Elderwood at Hamburg
  • Elderwood at Lancaster
  • Elderwood at Williamsville
  • Schofield Residence
  • Williamsville Suburban Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing