(WXYZ) - The 7 Action News Investigators are exposing an assisted living nightmare, what State officials confirm were serious issues at an adult foster care facility in Livonia.
When 7 Action News Investigator Scott Lewis started looking into the situation at Berkley Court of Livonia, he uncovered something even the state didn't know about; a name change.
We got onto this story after complaints from a viewer, Evelyn Longsworth, who documented poor conditions at a sister-facility in Brighton, took her complaints to the state, and got action.
In February of last year, Longsworth made a difficult decision. Tom, her husband of 47 years was suffering from Alzheimer's and it was no longer safe to keep him at home.
She took him to Ashley Court, an assisted living facility close to her home in Brighton that she thought was reputable.
"And I made a very serious mistake," Longsworth said.
Longsworth soon noticed issues and started to document them in a journal and with pictures.
She says the place was dirty, and understaffed.
"I saw some people fall. I saw some people get hurt. And there was no staff around," said Longsworth.
She says patient injuries were not being reported or investigated.
One day she walked in to find her husband lying in the hallway with dirty bare feet. Another time she found the skin had been scraped off his toes during a fire drill.
"Then one day I walked in and my husband had a horrific bruise on his buttocks," Longsworth said.
Before she could find a new facility for her husband he died last August. Still in grief, she pulled herself together and drafted five separate complaints, well documented with her notes and pictures, and sent a report off to the State Department of Human Services.
"He was a great man. And I know when my older son came home he read it and he said, 'you know mom, this is all true, but, he said, it breaks my heart to read about it and go back to that, because these were Tom's last days on earth'," Longsworth told 7 Action News Investigator Scott Lewis as she fought back tears.
Longsworth was relieved when state investigators established violations on four of her complaints. They ordered owner Rubin Chandok to come up with a corrective action plan, which the state later accepted and he is now implementing.
"The individual who complained about us we hold no ill will towards. We look at it as an opportunity to increase our level of care here," Chandok said.
What Evelyn Longsworth found and documented in Brighton was bad, but when the 7 Action News Investigators dug deeper, we found more. The owners of the Brighton facility own another one in Livonia, and the track record there is worse, much worse.
There are four buildings at Berkley Court in Livonia, each with a separate license. Over the last several years the state found numerous violations at all of them.
Among the violations: residents left unattended, their belongings disappearing, residents not getting medications, a staff member hitting a resident in the mouth and several staff members badgering a resident for reporting incidents.
And at building number one, the most disturbing of all; the state confirmed that the home manager and a staff member were physically abusing all of the residents. A state investigator recommended revocation of their license and the building was later closed voluntarily.
Evelyn Longsworth is not surprised.
"How a person conducts a business in one setting is probably how he conducts business in another setting. They either get it or they don't," Longsworth said.
Dave Akerly speaks for the Michigan Department of Human Services, the agency that regulates adult foster care homes. 7 Action News Investigator Scott Lewis asked him about the past violations at Berkley Court in Livonia.
"It is serious. I mean, and certainly we take it that way," said Akerly.
"They're serious, but in the whole scheme of things this is not the worst?" asked Lewis.
"Um, it's, it's up there," Akerly replied.
And the 7 Action News Investigators discovered something even the state didn't know. After closing building one over those serious violations Berkley Court changed the name on their sign to Ashley Court.
If you look up Ashley Court in Livonia on the state's web site, you won't find any violations because they're not licensed under that name.
Akerly says that doesn't pass the smell test.
"You don't get to do a name change like that wipe away history. If you have a history, that history has to stick to you," Akerly said.
Evelyn Longsworth, who was paying $4,000 per month at Ashley Court in Brighton says she believes the owner of these two homes is putting profits ahead of people.
"And he may think these buildings are cash cows, but the bottom line is you're dealing with human beings."
While the properties owned jointly by Rubin Chandok and his father have put patients at risk, our investigation reveals that they are living quite well. They live in a 1.6 million dollar home in Ann Arbor and between the two of them,
records reveal, they own more than two million dollars worth of real estate in Naples, Florida.
"We've been blessed by the good Lord with the kind of benefits that we've received but it's not due to anything other than hard work," Chandok said.
"Not from cutting corners here (at the assisted living facilities)?" Scott Lewis asked.
"No, no, no," Chandok replied.
Chandok's attorney points out that the building that was closed for serious violations in Livonia was being leased to and operated by another company at the time and the Chandoks cut ties with the contractor. But because the Chandok's hold the license, the state says buck stops with them.
Dave Akerly says half of the state's 46 hundred adult foster care homes have never had a complaint.
"Is the state doing enough to protect people in these homes?" Scott Lewis asked.
"Well, we think so. We think we are doing a good job here," Akerly replied.
Still, both Akerly and Evelyn Longsworth agree on one thing. People who have loved ones with memory problems have to keep a close eye on the facilities that care for them.
"The residents may not be able to speak for themselves on this in a way that would put the pieces together. But family members can do that" said Akerly.
"Because many people are going to be where I am today and it's a sad, long journey. Our role is to make it the best we can possibly do," said Longsworth.
And what does the Department of Human Services have to say about that name change to Ashley Court in Livonia? The agency will now make sure that if someone enters the new name in their data base to check for violations, it will link to the old name to give a true picture of the facilities history.
Ashley Court's attorney says the there's nothing wrong with instituting the name change and that a lot of companies have assumed names. He says people should check their license on the wall at the facility that lists their name Berkley Court of Livonia.
Two buildings at the newly-named Ashley Court in Livonia are operating under provisional licenses because of serious violations. The state inspected just last week and found only minor violations. They now planning to put the buildings on regular license status.
Just hours before our story aired, the executive director of the assisted living facility in Livonia issued this statement:
Our family opened our first special care home for individuals suffering from Alzheimer's, dementia or other conditions requiring 24-hour care over 15 years ago. We offer high-quality care in a safe, loving environment. We maintain a high level of integrity when working with our residents, and their families.
Our facilities are licensed by the State of Michigan. We are proud that we meet and exceed all of the licensing requirements. Our valued employees, some of whom have been with us for more than a decade, compassionately service all our residents, every day, with respect for each individual's dignity.
We treat any accusations brought against our family and our employees seriously. We examine every matter, cooperate with the appropriate parties, and make changes to improve care for residents. We stand by our years of continued service to the community and our residents. We continue to honor the pledge of high-quality service made to those who trust us with the care of their beloved family members