New operator may take over Peachtree Estates - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Continuing Coverage: New operator may take over Peachtree Estates

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DALTON, GA. (WRCB) -- Georgia regulators won't confirm it, but an attorney representing 25 residents of Dalton's Peachtree Estates assisted-living center maintains that the Department for Community Health will appoint an 'emergency receiver' to manage the facility "until a new owner takes over."

"There had been a plan of corrective action," attorney Greg Kinnamon tells Eyewitness News.
"But the parent company has been foreclosed on."

It's unclear as to which company Kinnamon refers. The building's owner, Ventas Realty, Limited Partnership, is suing the facility's operator, Assisted Living Concepts, Inc., (ALC) of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, in U.S. District Court in Illinois.

Ventas maintains ALC has defaulted on its leases for Peachtree Estates and eight other facilities after Georgia and Alabama filed notices of intent to revoke ALC's operating permits.

The notice follows an inspection earlier this year by the Health Facility Regulation Division of Georgia's Department of Community Health (DCH) after families of several Peachtree residents lodged complaints.

One came from Bill Sikkelee, on behalf of his 95-year-old mother.
"She had been left there (in the day room) for so many hours that she had her head down on a table and was virtually asleep," Sikkelee says.

Eyewitness News has been investigating residents' claims for more than a month. ALC corporate executives have declined to return numerous phone calls seeking comment.

Wednesday, our crew visited Peachtree Estates to try to determine who is in charge.

"We're going to have to ask you to leave the building," says a man who identifies himself as Dr. Mark Schaten, corporate medical director for ALC.

"Is ALC still running the operation," Channel 3 asks.

"Yes," Dr. Schaten says.

"You are still the operating group," Channel 3 asks again.

"Yes," Dr. Schaten answers.

"There is no resident director, there is no cook, there is no activity director," Kinnamon says. "The place is on auto-pilot. We can't move 'em (residents) out because there's no place for them to go."

DCH hasn't clarified any of the confusion.

"This is an open investigation, and we cannot comment on it," DCH  Media & Public Relations Manager Pamela Keene says.

According to DCH's website, Peachtree Estates is permitted to house 48 residents. Kinnamon represents the families of 25 of the facility's 38 residents.

"The first of the month, I told them to stop paying," he says. "We had to get their attention."

Rather than depositing fees for room, board and care into an escrow account, families have hired individual caregivers to attend to their loved ones' needs, Kinnamon says.

"We pay a lot," Sikkelee says. "We pay in excess of $5100 a month."

Kinnamon has told him and others that help is on the way.

"It will be less than two weeks, another operating company will come in,' he says.

Eyewitness News has obtained an email that purports to be from Catherine Mullican, a registered nurse with the Complaint Unit DSH's Healthcare Facility Regulation Division.

"An emergency receiver will be appointed for the facility until the new owner takes over," the email reads.

"Everything involving residents, including staffing, remains the same.  I am providing this information because the owners did not notify the residents and families of the situation."

Eyewitness News has been unable to reach Ms. Mullican to confirm or refute the authenticity of the email or the accuracy of its contents.

"Both these receivers have good track records," Kinnamon says. "But at this point we would welcome just about anybody."

Eyewitness News was able to reach one of the healthcare operators Kinnamon named. But its executives declined to confirm or deny whether regulators have asked their company to step in, or whether they've inquired about doing so.

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