Revolting Assisted Living Facilities "On [DHS'] Radar" Since February, Department Claims

The big question this afternoon at a press conference regarding the disgusting conditions at three Phoenix assisted living facilities was where the hell was the Arizona Department of Health Services to shut these places down? Turns out, at least one of the facilities was "on [DHS'] radar" since last February.

Since our earlier post, in which we describe the nastiness at the facilities, we spoke to Alan Oppenheim, the DHS' program manager for assisted living licensees, who says that conditions in Fiesta Village -- one of three facilities owned and operated by 42-year-old Melissa Pacheco (click here for all the dirt on nurse nasty) -- were so bad in February of 2010 that it was placed on a "provisional license" that went into effect in May.

Under the provisional license, Fiesta Village was forced to allow compliance officers to check the facilities once a month to guarantee that conditions were improving.

The conditions at the facilities that led to the provisional license were similar to those described in our earlier post, however, Oppenheim says, they weren't quite as bad.

He says compliance officers noticed minor improvements at the facility while it was under the provisional license, but in July, conditions had gone from bad to awful, and the facilities were shut down and an investigation was launched into Pacheco.

Oppenheim admits the conditions at the facility were pretty bad when the DHS placed it on a provisional license in February. He says the place was infested with roaches and Pacheco was ordered to have exterminators come and get rid of them.

You'd think that if the conditions were even close to as bad in February as they were in July, they would have shut the place down -- Oppenheim says it's not that simple. In fact, he claims, a lot of the people at Fiesta Village liked it there because they had "nowhere else to go."

"You don't want to transfer people on whim," he says, adding that elderly patients can often suffer what's called "transfer trauma," and not survive moving from one facility to another.

Personally, we think fecal/dead-pigeon/roaches/urine trauma seems a little worse than moving from one facility to another, but we're no experts.

Thankfully, Oppenheim says, all of the patients have now been moved to another safer (hopefully cleaner) facility. 

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