TONEY, Ala. - Citing danger of "irreparable harm," the Alabama Department of Mental Health Tuesday filed to have residents of a group home that serves the intellectually disabled removed from the care of their provider.
WHNT News 19 has learned a judge has scheduled a hearing in the case Monday, September 28. Attorneys tell us that is when they will present examples that they say illustrate the safety and welfare emergency that's prompting the push to remove residents from the group homes.
Restore Care, Inc., a residential services provider with 12 group homes that primarily serves intellectually disabled residents, was decertified by the Alabama Department of Mental Health (DMH) and ordered to relocate all residents Tuesday. Officials delayed the removal of the residents, pending a court order, after they were met with resistance while trying to remove the residents.
DMH Commissioner James Perdue said in a letter to Restore Care Executive Director Dr. Celia Lloyd-Turney, "The action is deemed necessary due to non-compliance with DMH regulations affecting the safety and welfare of consumers being served, documented as deficiencies in the follow-up site visit conducted August 10-13, 2015."
Perdue revoked Restore Care's department certification, effective Tuesday, saying the deficiencies posed a serious threat to the safety and welfare of the residents. Those findings were not cited in the department's court filings.
Thomas Klinner, attorney for DMH, said in an affidavit that he believes "immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the consumers in these group homes" if they are not immediately removed from Restore Care's care. Klinner told WHNT News 19 officials met resistance when attempting to remove residents from the property Tuesday, prompting DMH to file a temporary restraining order against the company and wait for a decision from a judge.
We asked about the circumstances leading to the decision to remove residents from Restore Care, but Klinner could not comment, citing concerns about confidentiality.
Several sources involved with caring for intellectually disabled people tell WHNT News 19 that it's very rare that an entity would be decertified, although this can be appealed.
Executive Director Lloyd-Turney said she is shocked at the decision to remove residents from Restore Care. She said the group homes are well-kept and clean. She claims the allegations are not based on fact, but a biased investigation.
"I know it's wrong," she said. "We vigorously deny these things... Nothing that I would do would have anything to do with unhealthy practices as it relates to patients."
She said when she got the letter notifying her of the decertification, she was shocked.
"I was shocked at the intensity of the letter," she said. "It was mind-boggling."
Restore Care's website says the company serves "more than 35 individuals" in 12 different homes. The company provides housing, transportation to and from schools and day programs, transportation and staffing for doctor appointments and hospitalizations, and community outings to residents.
"I will fight for them, and I will fight for Restore Care's ability to continue to care for them," said Lloyd-Turney. "I'm afraid if they're moved, they will go into shock and therefore not survive."
Lloyd-Turney has 15 days to appeal the Department of Mental Health's decision.