Fearing for seniors, Maine takes over 7 centers
BANGOR - Saying residents' health and safety are at risk, the state has placed in receivership a nursing home and six assisted-living centers run by a Connecticut-based company.
Action by Maine's Health and Human Services Department came to light Thursday during a presentation to state lawmakers seeking $87,000 to enable a state-appointed receiver to run the facilities, which house a total of 180 residents.
The department filed a petition on Oct. 2 against ELRCare Maine LLC seeking an emergency receiver. Eagle Landing Residential Care LLC in Connecticut referred questions to a Maine attorney for ELRCare Maine, Charles Dingman, who said yesterday that the company would not agree with all of the state's allegations but that it wanted to focus on working with state officials to ensure the facilities are financially viable and could continue to offer good care.
The state became concerned earlier this year when complaints surfaced that residents at the Penobscot Nursing Home were losing significant amounts of weight, said Catherine Cobb of the human services department.
Inspectors found that vendors had stopped delivering food and supplies because of unpaid bills at the 60-bed nursing home. As it improved its performance, problems at other Eagle Landing sites appeared, Cobb said.
The state's court petition said that because of Eagle Landing's financial difficulties, deliveries of food, supplies, and heating fuel were interrupted, phone and Internet services were cut off, and the company was unable to meet payroll.
The court document also says the company has used employees' credit cards to pay for food deliveries and telephone service, and in one case petty cash was used to purchase 100 gallons of heating fuel. Some vehicles used to transport residents have been repossessed and workers' compensation and liability insurance policies have been canceled.
The petition says Eagle Landing owes the state $400,000 in provider taxes, penalties, and interest, and $793,500 in MaineCare overpayments.
Commissioner Brenda Harvey said that when deficiencies were spotted during the summer, inspectors worried whether people would be adequately cared for when the weather got cold.
"There was no improvement and no plans for improvement," Harvey said. "The tipping point comes when the health and safety of the residents is compromised."