State Raps Litchfield Rest Home for Multiple Lapses, Ousts Management

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A Litchfield residential care home has been ordered to hire a new manager, improve resident care and pay a $2,000 fine, after findings that administrators left residents hungry, denied them information about their personal finances, and openly referred to them as “monkeys.”

Multiple residents of Fernwood Rest Home, Inc., a 68-bed facility, told inspectors from the state Department of Public Health (DPH) that administrators would tell them they had to “go shopping to feed the monkeys,” a state DPH report says. A staff member of the home confirmed complaints from residents that administrators would put a chain across the dining room while the staff was making a “gourmet breakfast for themselves,” and would instruct staff members to “keep the monkeys out” of the room while they were eating.

At the same time, the facility, with a significant population of mentally ill residents, skimped on meals for residents, offering them eggs for breakfast only two days a week, with hot and cold cereal provided on other weekdays and donuts on Sundays, the report says. Residents told inspectors that the only snacks provided were granola bars, “with some residents indicating that they are still hungry and are told they cannot have any other snacks until the next day.”

The home was cited for eight violations, including failing to treat residents with dignity and respect; failing to give them quarterly statements or receipts pertaining to their personal financial accounts; and failing to provide “routine recreational activities” for them. In addition, no resident council was in place to allow residents to discuss their living conditions or push for improvements, the report says.

Under a consent order between the DPH and the home’s president, Raymond Adkins, Fernwood Rest Home will pay a $2,000 fine and hire a temporary manager, who will then bring on a new full-time director and make other staff and procedural changes. Adkins’ wife, Vivian, is listed as the home’s administrator.

Reached Thursday, Karen Adkins, daughter of Raymond and Vivian and a manager at the home, said some of the DPH findings were “exaggerated or outright untrue.” She said the rest home, first established by her grandparents, has struggled with “changes in the economy and a more demanding population” of residents, some who have mental illnesses.

“Our daily rate is a little more than $57 a day, and we have to do an awful lot with that money,” she said. “Where we’ve fallen down is, we’ve tried to keep this like a home, instead of an institution,” which contributed to some of the citations for inadequate procedures.

She said some residents have been at the rest home for more than a decade.

“I was flabbergasted at some of the things that were in (the report) – that anyone would take things like that out of context,” she said. “Who would come here and live here for years if we were like that?”

The inspection report cites a number of instances in which the home failed to ensure that residents’ special dietary restrictions were followed. Fernwood’s day-shift “dietary manager” told DPH inspectors that he did not have a list of residents with special diet needs, including diabetic residents.

Beyond food, the DPH report cites the home for failing to respect residents’ privacy by opening their mail, and for segregating male and female residents by gender in the dining room and lounge areas. The home also was cited for failing to properly secure medication or to keep track of narcotics, with inspectors finding missing Vicodin tablets, among other discrepancies.

Administrators told DPH inspectors that recreational activities were not consistently provided “due to staffing issues and the lack of finances.”

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