Public Safety

New Hotline Among Long-Term Care Reform Efforts

The County continues to ramp up efforts to protect elderly patients from neglect or abuse at local residential and skilled nursing facilities.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Board of Supervisors accepted a first-year report on a pilot program called the Long-Term Care Facilities Special Prosecutions Unit that investigates and prosecutes crimes against these vulnerable citizens as well as other related actions.

The District Attorney’s pilot unit has opened 113 cases since its launch last summer. Felony charges have been filed in five of those cases. Fifty-six of the cases are still under review and 50 have been rejected because of lack of sufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, according to the DA’s office. The pilot program is set to continue.

This presentation came a day after the DA launched a new website and reporting line for suspected abuse. The phone number to report abuse is (619) 531-3342. Calls are screened by District Attorney staff for potential follow-up by investigators.

     District Attorney Office video on Long Term Care Special Prosecutions Unit

In addition to the special prosecutorial unit and abuse hotline, the County has strengthened a patient advocacy program and has plans to launch a rating system for residential and skilled nursing facilities.

The County Health and Human Services Agency’s Aging and Independence Services has recruited six additional trained volunteers in an ombudsmen program, has dedicated staff to answer calls, and has regional coordinators to help manage the oversight of facilities.

The program can impose license suspensions as needed, requires facilities to have liability insurance, and has increased the civil penalties imposed on facilities due to injury or death.

The new rating system pilot program is in development and is expected to launch in late fall.

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Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact