(a) The department shall establish a centralized consumer response unit within the Licensing and Certification Division of the department to respond to consumer inquiries and complaints.
(b) Upon receipt of consumer inquiries, the unit shall offer assistance to consumers in resolving concerns about the quality of care and the quality of life in long-term health care facilities.
This assistance may include, but shall not be limited to, all of the following:
(1) Offering to provide to consumers education and information about state licensing and federal certification standards, resident rights, name and address of facilities, referral to other entities as appropriate, and facility compliance history.
(2) Offering to participate in telephone conference calls between consumers and providers to resolve concerns within the scope of the authority of the department. If the inquiry or concern is determined to warrant an onsite investigation, the inquiry or concern shall be considered a complaint and handled pursuant to the complaint investigation process set forth in Section 1420.
(3) Initiating onsite investigations in response to oral or written complaints made pursuant to this section if the unit determines that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the allegations in the complaints describe one or more violations of state law by a long-term care facility.
(c) Nothing in subdivision (a) or (b) shall preclude the department from taking any or all enforcement actions available under state or federal law.
(d) Any person may request an inspection of any long-term health care facility in accordance with this chapter by giving to the department oral or written notice of an alleged violation of applicable requirements of state law. Any written notice may be signed by the complainant setting forth with reasonable particularity the matters complained of. Oral notice may be made by telephone or personal visit. Any oral complaint shall be reduced to writing by the department. The substance of the complaint shall be provided to the licensee no earlier than at the commencement of the inspection.
(e) Neither the substance of the complaint provided the licensee nor any copy of the complaint or record published, released, or otherwise made available to the licensee shall disclose the name of any individual complainant or other person mentioned in the complaint, except the name or names of any duly authorized officer, employee, or agent of the state department conducting the investigation or inspection pursuant to this chapter, unless the complainant specifically requests the release of the name or names or the matter results in a judicial proceeding.
(Amended by Stats. 2001, Ch. 680, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2002.)
Last modified: October 8, 2018