How “Life and Death in Assisted Living” Was Reported


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July 30, 2013

The team on the project included reporters A.C. Thompson (pictured above) and Jonathan Jones and Carl Byker of PBS FRONTLINE.

The reporters interviewed surviving members of the Boice family and their lawyers, as well as executives at Emeritus and lawyers for the company. They interviewed the families of current and former residents at Emerald Hills, as well as current and former workers at all levels of the facility in Auburn, Calif.

The reporters attended the Boice trial in Sacramento, Cali., and reviewed thousands of pages of sworn testimony as well as the roughly 400 exhibits entered into evidence in the family’s case against Emeritus, including Joan Boice’s medical records.

They documented every resident death and fall at Emerald Hills over the last several years.

The reporters acquired records of 911 calls involving Emeritus facilities across the country, as well as coroner and medical reports, police reports, facility plans of operation, company training and sales manuals, internal company emails, budgets and organizational charts, job descriptions, and monthly risk management reports. They also examined every Emeritus filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission from the time the company went public in 1995.

The reporters examined more than 100 lawsuits against Emeritus over the last decade, and collected thousands of pages of state inspection records for the company’s facilities in California, Texas, Ohio, Iowa, Mississippi and Georgia over the last five years.

The reporters visited seven states and Washington D.C. over the last 14 months, interviewing facility directors, supervising nurses, caregivers and housekeepers at Emeritus facilities, as well as facilities run by the company’s top competitors.

The reporters amassed records from state ombudsmen in California, Ohio, Texas, Washington and Florida.

They also spoke with numerous academics, current and former state regulators, industry lobbyists, the chief officers of the country’s other large assisted living chains and real estate developers.

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