Council seeks greater control over personal care homes

NORTHWEST CAIRO residents have complained to city officials about residents of this personal care home on 11th Ave. N.W. being unsupervised and roaming the busy street and adjoining yards.

The Cairo City Council is moving forward with its plan to limit the areas within the corporate limits of the city where personal care homes can be permitted.
During a rescheduled council meeting Thursday, the council unanimously approved a plan to eliminate personal care homes as a conditional use in single-family residential districts including R-1, R-1A  and R-1AA. Under the proposed new ordinance, personal care homes would continue to be allowed as a conditional use in multifamily districts including R-2, R-3 and R-PUD as well as a conditional use in C-1 neighborhood commercial districts.
Personal care homes are currently a permitted use in C-1A Office/Institutional and C-2 highway commercial districts.
Following the council’s action last week, City Attorney Thomas L. Lehman will now draft a proposed new zoning ordinance that includes these changes and, at the council’s July 13 meeting, the ordinance, if it meets the council’s approval, will be introduced and then adopted at the July 20 meeting.
“I do not think a personal home is compatible with single family zones, and that is why I have recommended and the council has voted to change the zoning ordinance,” City Manager Chris Addleton said.
The call for greater control over personal care homes is the result of an uptick in complaints from residents of northwest Cairo in regard to Emily Abacr Personal Care Home, which is being operated in a residence at 649 11th Ave. N.W.
The city manager says his office has received a lot of input from the residents of northwest Cairo in particular regarding the 11th Ave. N.W. personal care home.
Northwest Cairo citizens have complained of residents of the personal care home roaming the streets unattended, trespassing, suspected theft, public drunkenness and public urination.
The personal care home on 11th Ave. N.W. is permitted as a conditional use under the current zoning ordinance and city officials say they have no jurisdiction over the operation of the personal care home unless laws are broken.
“I know that some complaints have been filed with the state, but as far as the city is concerned, we are concentrating on police calls and disruptions external, not internal operations of personal care homes,” Addleton said.
The city manager encourages citizens who witness any problems involving a personal care home to notify Cairo police.
The state is responsible for inspections and compliance issues regarding personal care homes. These homes have been opened as part of a state initiative to move away from institutionalizing citizens who suffer for mental illness or other disabilities and placing them in a normal, residential setting.
Emily Abacr Personal Care Home is licensed to house six residents, and the administrator of the facility is Mildred King.
Recently, a complaint was filed with the Georgia Department of Human Resources on behalf of the Northwest Cairo Neighborhood Association, but that is not the first time the state has investigated the operations at Emily Abacr.
According to state records, on at least two other occasions complaints have been investigated by state authorities.
Last March, state investigators determined that the personal care home was in violation by not providing at least one functioning toilet and lavatory for each four residents.
State inspectors found that the home has one bathroom off a hallway where five residents sleep, and another bathroom off the master bedroom where the owner, her grandson and sometimes her adult son sleep.
Both the staff and the residents told state inspectors that the residents were only allowed to use the hall bath and not the bath in the master bedroom.
One of the six residents told authorities that use of the master bedroom bath was permitted, but he/she never used it.
During the same inspection, it was determined that the lavatory in the bath off the master bedroom was not functional and, according to staff, the water to it has been shut off because it would not drain.
The personal care home was also cited for not ensuring that hot water for resident use did not exceed 120 degrees. Inspectors measured the temperature of the hot water in the master bath at 126 degrees.
State inspectors also found that the staff of the personal care home was lax in providing oversight and supervision of the residents’ medications.
According to state records, one of the residents of Emily Abacr took an intentional overdose of Depakote, an anti-seizure medication, last March and was hospitalized for five days.
Investigators were told conflicting stories in regard to how access to the medicine cabinet, which is required to be locked, was obtained.
The administrator told investigators that the resident “cheeked” or held medication in his/her cheek and took them all at a later time to overdose and be admitted to the hospital. According to the administrator, the resident got the key to the cabinet while her back was turned. A visitor to the personal care home told inspectors the cabinet was always locked and “would not be surprised if the resident had ‘cheeked’” the medicine.
During the same inspection, the personal care home was also cited for improper storage of food.
A follow-up inspection to the March complaint was conducted last August, but no rule violations were cited by state officials.
State inspectors also visited the home in June and October of 2007.
The most recent inspection by state officials found that the personal care home was not maintaining adequate living space for all five of its residents. According to state inspectors, during the June 8, 2009 inspection they discovered that a family member of the home owner is residing in a bed designated for personal care use. The owner told state inspectors she was not familiar with the rule. Inspectors also found that the owner has not completed a new fingerprint criminal record check as required by the Department of Human Resources.
The Georgia Department of Human Resources website indicates that there are currently five other personal care homes licensed in Cairo.
Break Through Personal Care Home, located at 618 4th St. N.W., has an even poorer record than Emily Abacr.
In seven inspections by state officials, between 2007 and June of this year, violations were cited in all seven. The June inspection resulted in an 11-page report detailing a variety of violations including leaving the residents unattended and inadequate record keeping with regard to resident files and medical records. The owner was also cited for giving false statements to state inspectors.
Break Through’s administrator is Earinestine Yates. It is licensed to care for not more than five residents.
Emily Abacr Personal Care Home #2, located at 414 1st St. N.W., has been cited with state violations. It is licensed for a capacity of six residents. The administrator is Kelvin King.
No violations have been found at Mama Reesa Personal Care Home, which is located at 1218 Pine Circle S.W. The administrator is Teresa Washington and the licensed capacity is six.
Likewise, no violations have been cited at Heart & Hands Personal Care Home, located at 396 7th Ave. S.E. The administrator of this facility is Ventrisha Mollins and the home’s licensed capacity is five.
Magnolia Place of Cairo also has no violations cited on the the state’s website. The administrator of the facility is Susan Stamps and the licensed capacity is 60.
Cairo District 5 City Councilman Kermit Gilliard, whose district is home to Emily Abacr Personal Care Home, says the council’s goal is public safety.
“We must do all we can do to keep people safe. That means residents of personal care homes should be supervised and not on the streets unattended. I would urge anyone who observes a resident of a personal care home being mistreated or unsupervised to file a complaint with the state. We want all citizens to be safe,” Councilman Gilliard said.
To file a complaint regarding personal care homes call the state office of regulatory services at 404-657-5700, or you may do so by visiting dhr.georgia.gov

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