Lawyer: Pillsbury owner to fight state receivership orders

Published: Nov. 14, 2018 at 11:38 AM EST
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A hearing to seek permanent receivership of three Pillsbury residential homes has been delayed until next month.

Last week the state took temporary control over three of Pillsbury residential care facilities in South Burlington and St. Albans. Court paper work revealed staff worked long hours and had to do the work of multiple nurses, leading to deteriorating health care. One patient died after falling twice in the same day and prescribed fentanyl patches were misused or stolen from a resident.

Now, after complaints from staff, family and residents of a fourth facility, Harborview, the state Wednesday added it to the list seeking permanent receivership. It's an independent living facility with about 70 residents, many of those who who live and work there say they want peace of mind that things will go back to how they once were if a permanent receiver is put in place.

"I have picked up on a few things that seem off," said Dirdre Erb. Erb's mother has lived at Pillsbury's Allenwood in South Burlington for almost a year. She receives daily assistance, but Erb says she has noticed a decline in her mother's care. "Things like bathing, and removal of trash, which can be a really important issue with seniors," she said.

Complaints of food insecurity from staff, utility shut off notices, and staff shortages at the three residential care facilities led to the hearing Wednesday for a permanent receiver. Harborview is an independent living facility owned by Pillsbury. It was not included in the temporary receivership granted last week, but was added after complaints from residents, staff and family members.

"I do have some concerns. The residents there really deserve permanency," said Bessie Weiss, a Vermont Assistant Attorney General.

Although they don't receive around the clock care like those living at Allenwood, Homestead, and Pillsbury Manor South, Harborview residents use some of the same services like meals, wellness checks and emergency nurses.

"They don't deserve to worry about their homes anymore. But at the same time I am really pleased that every resident in the facility is included," Weiss said.

"The owners are eager to provide the state the assurances they need that the places are being properly run," said Lisa Shelkrot, a lawyer representing Andrew White and his Texas-based company, East Lake Capital Management. She's hoping to strike a deal in the next three weeks allowing White to continue to own the four facilities and remove the receiver. "We may be able to work something out with the state before then, were hopeful we will."

Erb's biggest concern is Allenwood's future, and being forced to find a new home for her mom. "If we have to shift gears and make another change, there will be many people out there looking at the same time, for what we're going to be looking for, and how is that going to be accomplished?" she said.

Vermont has about 2,600 assisted living beds in 119 homes. There are more than 200 people living at Harborview and the three other Pillsbury facilities. The state doesn't track openings, so it's not clear if those 200 people needed to move that they would have a place to go.