Embattled assisted living center seeks to make changes - WSMV News 4

Embattled assisted living center seeks to make changes

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Autumn Hills Assisted Living (WSMV) Autumn Hills Assisted Living (WSMV)

An assisted living center that has been the focus of Channel 4 I-Team investigations in the past is seeking a change at the top and money to make a transition.

Autumn Hills is an asset the community doesn't want to lose. There are 80 people living there now, some are low-income residents who don't have other options.

But the assisted living facility has been in disarray since Metro leased it for a for-profit group two years ago.

"We've had some bad experiences. The food's bad, there's not enough help,"  said Juanita Bate, a resident.

Unpaid bills piled up. Some staffers complained their paychecks bounced.

Now a group of citizens is forming a non-profit called Fairview Assisted Living to take over Autumn Hills.

Sam Latham is Fairview's president. 

"I'm glad we're getting the same kind of community support that we are," Latham said during a meeting of Metro’s Industrial Development Board Tuesday.

The IDB board raised questions of whether the facility will be able to break even. The number of patients at the facility is down. The facility is 80 percent occupied.

Members of Fairview’s new board said they expect they will have to cut the amount of charity care they provide.

Latham asked for an infusion of immediate cash to stabilize the facility.

They are seeking tax-exempt bonds worth more than $1 million.

Some of the money - how much isn't clear - would go to pay off the old owner's debts, such as taxes and utilities.

"We're not sure how much, if we issue these bonds, how much of it actually has to pay back, sort of, the past sins, right?" Ginger Hausser, IDB board chair asked.

Metro Councilman Jim Shulman wanted to hold off issuing the bonds until Metro finished an audit.

"There's questions about liability, there's questions about how the thing was operated. There's lot of different questions, that's why the request for the audit was made," Shulman said. "Once the audit gets back to us, we're going to take a look at it and see what it means."

Industrial Development Board members were concerned about holding up the transition.

"I know the situation is not going to get better for the residents if we don't do something, " said IDB board member Chris Harmon.

The board voted to approve the bonds.

There are several more steps that need to happen before bonds can be issued. First, the current operator of Autumn Hills must execute an option with the city to buy the facility. It is currently being leased. Then Autumn Hills would sell the facility to the non-profit.

Mike Hampton, who has been running the facility, has agreed to step down effective No. 1. He will be replaced by Melvin Corlew, a retired health care administrator, According to Autumn Hills, Corlew has 40 years of experience.

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