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State closes Hampton assisted living facility

After more than a year appealing the state's proposed revocation of its license, Ashwood Assisted Living facility in Hampton has closed its doors. On Tuesday, the premises were deserted, all residents moved out, and the doors locked.

The action came after Margaret R. Schultze, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services, issued a 16-page final ruling revoking its license to operate. The ruling came more than a year after Ashwood's license expired in August 2012 and even longer since the DSS issued an intent to revoke in June 2012.

Since then, owner Scott Schuett had been following the lengthy appeals process to keep it in operation despite continued state inspections showing numerous violations that included medication mismanagement, insufficient food, understaffing and unsanitary conditions for the 81 residents, all of whom had mental and physical disabilities. Of six facilities Schuett once operated in the region, only Chesapeake Home in Chesapeake remains open; the DSS website lists its provisional license as having expired on June 30, 2013.

In Schultze's ruling, she referenced three unannounced inspections of Ashwood in January and February 2012, in which "the Department found widespread, systemic and pervasive violations of the standards … that constituted a failure by Ashwood to ensure the health, safety and welfare of Ashwood's residents." (To read the full transcript, go to http://www.dailypress.com/media/acrobat/2013-10/124728100-01111845.PDF.)

The VDSS initially reported that Ashwood would close on Oct. 9, but it had finished relocating residents by Oct. 1. In response to queries regarding the location of former residents, DSS spokeswoman Joron Moore wrote, "Legally we cannot release information related to the location of the residents. That information is confidential. However, I can share that all of the residents have been placed in other residences based on need and availability by the local social services and other affiliated agencies."

The Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board reported that it had about 20 clients in Ashwood. Of these, one was admitted to a nursing home, one to adult foster care, one to local family, and all others to assisted living facilities throughout the region. Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia, which has had clients in the facility, did not return two attempts to reach the agency.

Phone calls to other assisted living facilities in the city — including to Heart and Soul, Morningside, Mennowood and Monticello — either went unanswered or staff declined to provide the information.

"I hope they found places for those people," said Lee Snider, a former resident of both Governor's Inn, the first Schuett property to close, and Ashwood. He noted that when Governor's Inn closed, many of the residents were placed in adult foster homes.

In regard to the future of the facility, Moore responded, "We do not know if the facility will be sold or not, but we do know that there is no plan to re-open."

Salasky can be reached by phone at 757-247-4784.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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