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Resident Newsletters: Good Idea or Disasters Waiting to Happen? [Gray Area of the Law]

February 18, 2021

Shareholder John Ruffier discusses why resident newsletters could pose potential problems for senior living facilities. 

Senior Housing News recently reported about a resident newsletter at a Yonkers, New York, community that has garnered national and international attention.

Frustrated with what she viewed as a lack of transparency from her community’s leadership team to residents about COVID-19 and other matters, a resident took matters into her own hands by publishing a newsletter (“The Buzz”) with listings of resident hospitalizations and deaths, as well as puzzles, poetry and other items submitted by her fellow residents.

While HIPPA regulations prohibit facilities from sharing medical information such as the COVID status of residents (regulations that do not bind residents), the story underscores the desire of residents to know “what is going on” at their community and the importance of facilities to communicate regularly with residents and to share as much information as is allowed – as well as why some information cannot be shared.

Otherwise, the facility may find itself on the receiving end of some bad “Buzz”.

This is an excerpt from a blog post originally written on Gray Area of the Law.

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John Ruffier concentrates his legal practice on commercial real estate, representing clients within Florida and across the nation. As the firm's Senior Housing Group chair, he also helps companies build their senior living portfolios from the ground up. 

Whether representing companies that are developing, acquiring or selling commercial real estate, or lenders who are making or modifying commercial loans, John’s skills garnered from his championship rowing days serve him well. After all, rowing is a lot like business: both require a clear vision and goal, a well-developed plan, manageable milestones and a laser-like focus – with the flexibility to adjust when necessary.

Restaurants, big box retail stores, office buildings, golf courses, and senior living facilities are among the real estate transactions in John’s dossier, both in Florida and across the United States. Clients appreciate John’s holistic approach to deals – like in his rowing days, John ignores distractions and always keeps his focus on the goal line of getting the deal done. With senior housing, John and his team work on such diverse issues such as land use, licensing, financing, labor and employment, management and operations, all to provide clients with advice that carefully looks at both immediate needs and the long-term prospects for potential transactions.

When he is not practicing law, John is heavily involved in The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. He founded Orlando’s HRC Steering Committee which has received numerous national awards since its inception. Although still involved on a local level, John now focuses his service as a member of the organization’s national Board of Directors and will take over as Board Chair next year.  John is also the past President of the Hope and Help Center of Central Florida, an AIDS service organization in Orlando. The organization has awarded him the “Chuck Hummer II Visionary Award” in recognition of his leadership in the LGBT community.

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