A Riviera Beach group home for frail seniors has lost its operating license after years of allegations of neglect, improper care and hazardous conditions.
State inspectors who made a surprise visit to Locust Lodge, a private group home on Meadow Drive, recommended revoking its license after finding a series of violations that threatened the safety and health of the five residents, said Gary Tavin, a spokesman for the Maryland Office on Aging.
Locust Lodge and its operator, Elizabeth Frisino, had been cited numerous times in the past for failing to provide proper supervision,well-balanced meals, adequate lighting and warm rooms in the winter,Tavin said. Some of the violations date back to 1983, including reports that Frisino's grandson had frightened the residents.
When oneof the frail seniors fell in early August and reported that another resident had to call the ambulance because no staff was present, the state took action.
Investigators made an unannounced visit Aug. 26and discovered potentially "life-threatening" violations, including poor lighting and suppers that consisted of only cake and ice cream.
"In the entire history of this program, this is only the second home where we have taken this kind of action," said Ilene Rosenthal, director of housing for the Office on Aging. "These problems have been going on for a long time. They've been cited throughout almost the entire history of that facility."
Frisino was one of the first people to participate when Maryland initiated a program to assist frail seniors who couldn't live on their own, but didn't need the services ofa nursing home. She opened her group home with a license to care forup to nine elderly in 1978, two years after the program began.
By1983, the Office on Aging already had received several complaints about her grandson. Frisino signed an agreement that year to keep him from the premises. But residents continued to call every couple of years claiming the grandson had showed up and threatened them, Rosenthalsaid.
Among the violations reported by residents and inspectors were that more than one room only had 15-watt light bulbs, the air-conditioning was only turned on during meal times, temperatures were kept at 50 degrees during the winter, and meals weren't well-balanced. Residents complained that they were served only baloney sandwiches formeals or given cake and ice cream instead of dinner.
The state, which monitors 115 group homes for frail elderly, including 14 in AnneArundel County, has imposed a ban on admissions until the license isformally revoked Sept. 21.