Retirement community says it's being discriminated against - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Retirement community says it's being discriminated against

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Dubuque Retirement Community says its getting rid of its assisted-care license, opting to move into an independent living community status, more like an apartment rental agreement. But with more than $32,000 in state fines against the facility in the last year and a half, some are questioning the company's motives.

Wisconsin-based Assisted Living Concepts operates the community Executives say the switch is because most residents are living independently anyway and not because of fines.

"It has, I guess, a way of making it seem like we're doing this because we're trying to get out of something, and that's not the case," President and CEO Laurie Bebo said.

Fines include allegations of medication errors, staffing problems, and plumbing issues. Bebo said the company has paid some fines, but is disputing others. The most recent fine came this month in the amount of $16,000. Bebo says the company is challenging the entire fine.

In June, the company announced plans to change the community's status. By changing to an independent living community, Dubuque Retirement Community will no longer provide medical services. Residents would now hire their own home health service if needed.

One service available, Swan Home Health, is renting space in the facility and is staffed by former Dubuque Retirement Community employees. Swan is also owned by Assisted Living Concepts. Because of that pairing, the state has said the company may be breaking the law if they keep swan home health involved.

Assisted Living Concepts says the law doesn't read that way, and the company is being discriminated against.

Bebo says the matter is an issue of public policy that could change the rights of seniors to choose services at independent living centers statewide.

"You have seniors across the state who are in independent buildings who receive home health services or receive meals or are part of a coordinated meal program at the community, etc. So the idea that Dubuque can't do what everybody else is doing, I don't understand it," Bebo said.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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