Court of Appeals of Washington,
CRESCENT CONVALESCENT CENTER, Respondent,
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES, STATE OF
Aug. 19, 1997.
Reconsideration Denied Sept. 17, 1997.
Nursing home appealed from decision by Office of Appeals for Department of Social and
Health Service (DSHS) denying its request for administrative review of DSHS citation.
The Superior Court, Yakima County, F. James Gavin, J., reversed. DSHS appealed. The
Court of Appeals, Schultheis, J., held that: (1) statutory scheme regulating nursing home
industry creates property interests requiring due process, and (2) informal review process
offered by DSHS after nursing home disputed DSHS citation was insufficient to satisfy
Crescent Convalescent Center sought administrative review of a citation issued by the
Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) for failure to meet a dietary
assessment standard. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) dismissed the request after
concluding Crescent does not have a regulatory, statutory or constitutional right to an
administrative hearing, and the DSHS Office of Appeals affirmed. The superior court
found a constitutional right and reversed. On appeal, DSHS contends the court erred in
ruling DSHS deprived Crescent of a property interest without due process of law. It
argues Crescent does not have a constitutionally protected property or liberty interest, but
if it does, the informal review offered by DSHS satisfied due process requirements. We
disagree and affirm the judgment of the superior court.
As a state licensed nursing home caring for Medicaid recipients, Crescent must comply
with numerous state and federal statutes and regulations. DSHS, the agency responsible
for enforcing those regulations, is required by law to conduct at least one unannounced
annual inspection of each nursing home and to investigate complaints. Following
inspections, DSHS must give the facility written notice of any violations it finds,
describing the reasons for noncompliance. RCW 18.51.091. DSHS must also (1)
prominently post a copy of the citation in the nursing home, RCW 18.51.260; (2) publish
an annual report, available to the public, that lists all licensed facilities, the nature of each
citation issued, and any action taken, RCW 18.51.270; and (3) by February 1 of each year
notify all public agencies that refer patients to nursing homes of all those homes in the
area that had no violations during the preceding year, RCW 18.51.250. Public agencies
are then required by law to give priority to citation-free nursing homes in referring
publicly assisted patients. RCW 18.51.250.