Rep pushes for notice as foster home closes abruptly
Livonia — Rep. Laura Cox, R-Livonia, announced Friday at a news conference that she’s adding language to the pending state budget that requires the state licensing agency to notify local state legislators when a foster care home in their district loses its license.
The move comes in the wake of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services evacuating residents from a Livonia adult foster care home, giving their families no more than six hours notice.
Chaos erupted around the Ashley Court care facility around 6 p.m. Wednesday, Mayor Livonia Dennis Wright said, as panicking family members hurried to remove loved ones and their belongings from the large group home of 70 to 80 residents after the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs decided the adult foster care home could no longer operate.
“That at least gives the legislators, the senator and representative, the ability to contact the local officials,” Cox said. “The mayor, the police chief, the fire chief would have been the first calls I would have made.”
Cox added that she hopes to create further legislation with the help of local officials that will make for a smoother process and avoid what happened at Ashley Court.
Wright said he found out about the situation from reporters at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
“We simply had no time to help prepare for this chaotic situation,” Wright said. “Residents should have been given some advanced notice.”
Attorney and former Livonia council member Jim McCann moved his mother, Lillian, from Ashley Court to Arden Court Wednesday. McCann said he received a phone call at 12:30 p.m. and was told he needed to move his mother out before 6 p.m., and that state agencies would take control of anyone left there.
“We were panicked to get my mom out of there,” McCann said. “I want to thank Laura Cox because it is so important to remember that patients have rights.”
Livonia Fire Chief Shadd Whitehead said his department transported the last three residents to other health care and foster care facilities after law enforcement assisted with traffic congestion and cleared a fire lane earlier in the afternoon.
“The level of egregiousness and the level of immediacy, we did not understand,” Whitehead said.
Cox said she was told the commotion surrounding Wednesday’s evacuation was “unusual” and that the licensing department revokes a foster care services license three times a month.
State officials cited numerous issues in the order to revoke the license for the group home, also known as Berkley Court. Among them:
■In February, a licensing consultant found 13 rule violations at one of the buildings on Seven Mile, including two direct-care staff not being trained in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The next month, the state fire marshal inspector cited nine safety deficiencies and said those previously noted hadn’t been corrected.
■At the same building this month, a 93-year-old resident was rushed to St. Mary Mercy Hospital after falling and hurting his head while a worker bathed him. That employee said she was alone and “didn’t know” how to use a shower chair with a back. She later told the consultant she lacked basic first aid or CPR training.
■At another building part of the facility, an 85-year-old fell in her bedroom early Feb. 4 and remained unattended on the floor for six hours, leading to circulation and kidney problems. Surveillance footage showed that the two staffers on duty that night failed to check any residents or change their undergarments.
■In late April, an 88-year-old resident was “dropped, causing her to hit her face on an end table.” Her guardian told a consultant the woman’s undergarments were left soiled on three occasions, and once for nearly 12 hours.
Because of the violations, the licensee was barred from operating an adult foster care large group home there or anywhere else, according to the document.
The Michigan Bureau of Fire Services cited two of the buildings for repeat violations, said Jason Moon, communications director at the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
The Michigan Bureau of Community and Health Systems “also found some quality of care issues, but the immediate threat that caused the suspension order was due to the BFS disapproval of the buildings,” Moon wrote in an email to The Detroit News. “BCHS is working with Michigan Adult Protective Services to assist with resident relocation.”
Since the state summarily suspended the license, an administrative hearing is expected to be scheduled before a judge, according to the order. The licensee has to notify the Michigan Administrative Hearings System within five days of receiving the notice to appeal.