Closing

The only assisted living facility in Camden County that accepts Medicaid patients has given a 30-day notice it is permanently closing.

The only assisted living facility that accepts Medicaid patients in Camden County has given residents a 30-day notice they will have to find a new place to live.

The eviction letter, sent July 26 to residents at Coastal Senior Living of St. Marys, blamed “ongoing staffing and operational problems” for the decision to close the facility.

“Please know this decision was not made lightly and is disheartening to our entire team. Staffing shortages and operational challenges have been a global crisis this past year and Coastal Senior Living has done everything to prevent this from happening. Our team will assist in your relocation,” according to the letter sent to residents earlier this week.

An employee at Coastal Senior Living declined to answer any questions Wednesday but said she would forward contact information for an interview request by The News. No one from the corporate office returned a request for an interview via phone or email Wednesday.

Ashley Armstrong of Woodbine said her 67-year-old father with dementia is one of the residents in need of a new place to live.

Her father, Ed Tilton, was a Marine Corps veteran who served six years as an aircraft mechanic before earning a law degree. He had a successful law practice in Jacksonville, Fla., until he was stricken with dementia in his 50s, Armstrong said.

“Dad didn’t have time to prepare for old age,” she said. “When dementia hit, it hit hard.”

Armstrong said her father’s life savings are exhausted and she has medical documentation showing he is incapable of making legal decisions for himself. Armstrong said she also has documents designating her with power of attorney and the legal authority to make all decisions on behalf of her father.

But when she tried to visit her father Wednesday to discuss plans to move him to a facility in Brunswick that accepts Medicaid patients she was denied access by staff, who cited an ongoing COVID-19 lockdown. She was also denied a request to speak to her father over the telephone by staff on Wednesday in what she believes is in retaliation for going public with the short notice to close the facility.

“They have not even answered the families on who is paying for the relocation costs or how they are handling monthly payments that are debited out of patient accounts,” she said.

The decision facing the 14 Medicaid patients at the facility will be a challenge for family members, Armstrong said.

“Right now, because of the so-called staffing issues, veterans, grandparents and parents with their families are being focused in a direction no one knows where to go,” she said. “With the rise in COVID we aren’t even allowed to view facilities or even see our loved ones. My dad’s facility is currently on lockdown.”

There were also concerns that patients with dementia were given the 30-day notice letters earlier this week instead of their caregivers.

Linda Partain is another Camden County resident with a family member who will have to find a new home. Partain is the primary caregiver for her 88-year-old grandmother with dementia.

She questioned why staff gave her grandmother the notification on Monday instead of her.

“They said it was because she was in a lucid state,” Partain said.

The news was upsetting to her grandmother once she understood the letter. Partain is trying to find a place in the region but was told she may have to consider moving her grandmother north of Atlanta.

“Any change in her routine is detrimental,” she said. “Honestly, I don’t know what to do.”

Leslie Manoukia, an aide to state Sen. Sheila McNeill, R-Brunswick, said the senator has already contacted officials in the state capital to see if there is anything they can do to help.

She said Armstrong should have been allowed to speak with her father over the phone.

“She was cut off even though she has power of attorney,” she said. “They cannot deny her access to her father, but they have done it.”

Manoukia said the people she has spoken to with family members in the facility have received no help from staff to find new facilities for residents.

“They are livid,” she said of family members. “They have no place to go. These families are on their own.”

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