FORT PAYNE, Ala. (WHNT) - The Alabama Department of Public Health has suspended the license of a nursing home in DeKalb County, ordering it to close within 48 hours.
State Health Officer Donald Williamson issued an emergency order Wednesday afternoon against The White House Assisted Living Facility, located at 751 Houston Loop Road in Fort Payne. The order says the facility placed residents at serious risk for imminent harm and are in direct violation of the State Board of Health's Rules for Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities.
The facility has 16 beds, and had four patients at the time of the investigation in January. Dr. Walter T. Geary, Jr. with the State Health Department said during the check, the team found the facility was not compliant with treatment of dementia and Alzheimers patients.
Specifically, Geary said investigators found a patient had been restrained, one patient had a pressure ulcer (bed sore), and non-licensed employees were administering medications.
Residents have until 3 p.m. Thursday to pack up and move out.
The facility and the Alabama Department of Public Health recently agreed the facility would be sold or closed by May 16, 2014. However, the state says during this negotiation process, The White House Assisted Living Facility continued to operate in a manner that places residents at serious risk of harm.
In its emergency order, the state cited an elderly, confused male resident who wandered away on April 17. He had previously walked off when he was admitted to the facility in February, but the facility did not report that incident within the required time period, and actually, didn't report it until the state was investigating the patient's recent April elopement.
The state's order cites other complaints made against the facility as well. The facility had four patients as of Tuesday, and Dr. Geary says they discovered the owners had lied about a patient moving out. The patient is still there.
In the order issued Wednesday, the state orders the facility to suspend all operations within 48 hours, stating its operation poses a danger to the public health, safety and welfare of its residents. It has also suspended its license, effective immediately.
It must also transfer its residents to a new facility and not admit any new residents.
The state will hold a hearing May 20, 2014 at 9 a.m. to discuss the matter further.
The facility was initially given until their May hearing to prove they addressed the issues or sell to new owners.
But the emergency order came after an elderly, confused patient wandered out of the facility without caregivers noticing. It was considered by the state as the last straw.
The eviction order came as a surprise for some people who say their family members were happy and well taken care of.
"When he went to the hospital with pneumonia [my dad] kept saying 'I got to get well to get back to the White House. Tell the White House I'm coming home'," said Rock Stone, whose father recently moved in the facility.
Danny LaMunyon had similar praises, saying his mother, who had lived at the facility for 18 months, was well taken care of.
LaMunyon is struggling to find a new home for his mother, who is in hospice care. He has found a potential facility in Scottsboro, but is worried he won't get approval.
The current owners are in the process of selling the facility to new management.