Down Manor was notified by the state last week that it would not be penalized for advertising personal care services it was not licensed to give.
However, the independent senior living center was warned by the state Department of Justice not to take that route again or it would face a fine of up to $25,000 for unlawful trade practices. The business was also directed in a letter dated Sept. 28, 2001 from the civil enforcement division that it was to reimburse any client who had paid for, but who had not received, assistance with bathing, dressing, etc., after these services were discontinued on Aug. 1.
"It was satisfying to receive the note from the state that we faced no sanctions and that this was behind us and had been resolved well for both the residents and hospital," said Jonathan Emerson, head of the three Hood River senior and disabled housing projects owned and managed by the Providence health care network.
Emerson said Down Manor personnel were very careful to make sure that no residents paid for extra help they did not receive when the facility gave them a 30-day lead to hire outside assistance. In mid-July the 99-unit retirement complex also quit posting notices on the internet that advertised the availability of personal care assistance.
The state investigation was initiated by the family of an 88-year-old Down Manor resident who was cut off from medication reminders and become ill after taking a double-dosage of prescription drugs because he couldn't remember taking the first allotment.
That complaint termed Down Manor's actions as consumer fraud since the business advertised personal care which had been instrumental in the family's choice to place their relative there. They said that because these services were discontinued, they had been forced to traumatize the elderly man by moving him from his home of five years because he could not mentally or physically cope with the withdrawal of on-site services.
Emerson said personal care stopped at Down Manor shortly after he came on board in May and became aware of the illegal practice. He said the complex had been providing between 10-12 residents with daily help and medication reminders since it opened in 1989 at 3260 Brookside Dr.
At that point he said the hospital, which took over ownership/management of the elder housing complex in 1998, made the decision to risk further penalties by giving its clients 30 days and a listing of referrals so they could hire outside assistance.
"The best interests of our clients has always been behind our actions," said Emerson.