New Bedford Care Facility Settles Discrimination Allegations
NEW BEDFORD — A New Bedford skilled nursing facility will pay $5,000 to the federal government to settle allegations that it denied admission to people being treated for opioid use disorder.
The U.S. Attorney's Office alleged that in February 2019, The Oaks, a facility on Acushnet Avenue, refused to admit a patient with the disorder, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is a recognized disability under federal law, noted Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel Mendell — and, he said, "providers who fail to treat it as such operate outside the law."
“This settlement is the latest demonstration of our unending commitment to vindicate the rights of disabled people — and it will not be the last,” he added.
The discrimination complaint alleges that in February 2019, a hospital asked the facility for a bed for a patient in need of skilled nursing services.
According to the complaint, The Oaks said it could not accept the person because he was prescribed Suboxone, a treatment for OUD.
The action prompted a federal investigation into The Oaks’ practice of denying admission to those who take medication to treat the disorder.
Under the settlement terms, The Oaks will adopt a non-discrimination policy, revise its admissions policy and train its admissions staff, among other actions.
It will also pay the U.S. government a $5,000 civil penalty.
The U.S. Attorney's Office has settled a total of nine ADA violations related to Opioid Use Disorder treatment from healthcare providers since May 2018.