PROVIDENCE-- For months before it finally closed its doors, Hillside Health Center was struggling with its bills and running short of critical supplies and food.
Health inspectors knew the nursing home's financial health was poor, but did not close the facility. It was shut down in June after going into bankruptcy.
According to The Providence Journal, interviews with families and employees and a further review of the public records show that Hillside was chronically short of money.
Hillside's former administrator, James Janetakos, said the Health Department inquired about the tenuous finances at Hillside in 2002 and again in 2003.
Around the fall of 2002, Janetakos said, a state nursing home regulator called and said, '' 'Jim, we're just getting a lot of rumors that you're running out of food and running out of medical supplies. Show me you've got it coming in.' "
Sean Woods, Hillside's former human resources director, said that near the end, nine out of every 10 checks bounced.
Company executives have declined requests for comment from The Providence Journal.
The state's ombudsman for the elderly had complained to the Health Department in July 2002 that Hillside's checks to employees were bouncing.
Three months later, the Health Department's spot check of 20 residents found widespread flaws at Hillside, including that some residents were not getting all their medication.
A worker said one man wasn't getting his antiseizure drug because the supply had been out for two months, according to inspection records.
Diabetics said Hillside had stopped handing out the evening snacks they needed.
Janetakos said he provided the state a month's worth of invoices, which showed that suppliers of food and medicine would deliver to Hillside only if they were paid cash up front. Hillside, he said, had already been cut off by other food vendors.
Robert Marshall, spokesman for the state Health Department, said the department did not have a record or recollection of asking for those invoices in 2002.
He confirmed that regulators did ask Hillside about payments to food and medical suppliers in 2003.
''We found that minimally adequate supplies were available," he said. ''There may have been some brief period where supplies were short, but this did not continue."
Former staff said they ran short of masks, gloves, soap, and food. Patients recalled being told there was no cream for their coffee, nor teabags.
Air conditioners malfunctioned, as did refrigerators, and one elevator, broken when the home opened, was never repaired.
When the facility finally went into receivership, the temporary administrator appointed to run Hillside discovered at 6:30 the first evening that there wasn't enough food for the next day's breakfast.