State suspends operating license of Hillen assisted-living facility

The Baltimore Sun

The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has suspended the license of an assisted-living facility in Baltimore's Hillen community, according to an order issued yesterday by department Secretary John M. Colmers.

Four residents of Ann's Loving Care in the 1500 block of Northgate Road were transferred to other licensed facilities, with help from city police, Adult Protective Services and the state Department of Aging, said Wendy Kronmiller, director for the Office of Health Care Quality.

When reached for comment last night, one of the licensees, Vernon Lee, said he and his wife, Angela Lee, planned to appeal the decision.

According to the suspension order, one employee had been convicted of child abuse in 1986 and had been arrested for assault in 2000, although those charges were dropped.

The suspension order also states that one resident called police in March to report that this employee had "pulled a knife on her" and taken away her medication. After the woman was moved to a hospital and stated she was too afraid to return, the licensees prevented the resident's niece from entering the facility to gather her personal items and documents, according to the order.

Police and Adult Protective Services ultimately had to help the niece recover the property, the order states.

The complaint also discusses the unwillingness of Vernon and Angela Lee to cooperate with inspectors and other state officials. The two refused to allow surveyors to enter the facility, according to the order. They also barred a nurse consultant working with the Medicaid Waiver program from entering to conduct a behavioral assessment of one client, the report states.

Vernon Lee said the issue stemmed from personal conflicts rather than violations of laws and regulations.

The employee was charged with child abuse more than 20 years ago, he said. "The time she's been with us, no abuse, no neglect, no anything."

And the nurse wanted to give a behavioral assessment to a patient who was already working with a psychiatrist at the University of Maryland, he said.

About 40 assisted-living facilities have been shut down in the last four fiscal years, but only a handful have had their licenses "summarily suspended," Kronmiller said.

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