The long-serving operator of a North Charleston group home for the elderly and disabled was arrested in a raid of the facility Thursday morning.
The residents, who include hospice and low-income patients, were removed from the home, a measure patient advocates said was unusual and drastic, occurring only when residents are in imminent danger.
Andrea Magwood, 68, faces a charge of neglecting a vulnerable adult in her care at Fair Havens Manor, the eight-room Cosgrove Avenue house licensed as a 20-bed assisted-living home, state records show. It is Magwood’s second arrest in connection with the home.
State officials offered no explanation for why Magwood was allowed to return there following her earlier arrest of charges of abusing and exploiting a 65-year-old woman. They did say that they are tightening oversight of small assisted-living homes similar to Fair Havens Manor.
Magwood might face additional charges stemming from an ongoing investigation of the facility’s operations, according to the North Charleston Police Department. Her bail hearing is scheduled for this morning, spokesman Spencer Pryor said.
The 79-year-old man Magwood is accused of neglecting was “in such poor health that (the complainant) had him transported to the hospital immediately,” according to an incident report. Police were notified of possible neglect on April 5.
The man was severely dehydrated and malnourished. Doctors diagnosed him with a subdural hematoma, a collection of blood on the brain that can result from head injury, the report said.
A state official said Magwood, who has operated group homes for about 35 years, is licensed as a long term health care administrator, although her name does not appear on the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation website.
Magwood’s license had been suspended following her arrest in 2004. At that time, state officials slapped the facility, then called Genesis Community Care Home, with $8,300 in fines after finding roaches and moldy food in the kitchen, unsupervised disabled residents and a malnourished woman with sores.
LLR spokeswoman Lesia Kudelka said she could not provide details of Magwood’s license history Thursday.
“We will continue searching our records,” Kudelka said in an email.
Intensified scrutiny The Department of Health and Environmental Control, the state agency that oversees group homes, did not respond to a list of questions emailed Thursday afternoon.
Instead, DHEC Director Catherine Templeton offered a statement: “Our ultimate goal is for every licensed facility to foster an environment that protects the health, safety and well-being of its residents and DHEC’s ongoing investigation will determine whether this facility fell short of the mark.”
Tony Keck, the state’s Medicaid director, said in a statement that his agency is “intensifying our scrutiny of a number of these facilities to ensure that resident health, safety and dignity are a priority.”
The state Medicaid agency spends more than $18 million annually on the state’s 480 licensed community residential care facilities, which are intended for patients who need help bathing, dressing and taking medications, among other things. The state covered room and board for about half of Fair Havens Manor residents.
15 residents Paramedics escorted 13 residents from the home — some of them in wheelchairs and others using canes or walkers — just after Magwood’s 9 a.m. arrest Thursday. Other officials removed baskets containing what appeared to be medications. While 13 residents were at the facility during the raid, 15 people lived there, according to the S.C. Medicaid agency.
Paramedics loaded most residents into an MUSC Health van. MUSC evaluated 14 people from the home Thursday, hospital spokeswoman Heather Woolwine said.
The state “has made advance arrangements for all of those folks to be moved to different facilities once they have been evaluated here,” Woolwine said in a statement.
Mary Twomey, a spokeswoman for the National Center on Elder Abuse in Washington, D.C., said an evacuation like the one at Fair Havens Manor “would be done only when there’s significant and immediate danger to residents.”
“It is dramatic that the state came in and pulled people out,” Twomey said. “It’s traumatic for residents who are already very frail and possibly vulnerable. I’m sure the state doesn’t do that lightly.”
Dave Zoellner, a Charleston attorney for Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, said moving residents is a difficult process that “can be a problem” because only a limited number of facilities are “licensed and ready with staffing.” It also can be dangerous.
“You worry about their medications, their conditions,” Zoellner said. “Some are not particularly mobile.”
‘It’s a mess’ Officials did not say where the residents would be moved, but Zoellner said some of them might not be able to remain in Charleston because there aren’t enough beds for them here.
Thursday, a woman who identified herself as the first cousin of a resident at the home said she was confused by the evacuation. The woman, who declined to be identified, happened to be driving by the one-story pink house just after more than a dozen EMS trucks, forensics experts, fire, police and other state officials converged there. She briefly spoke with her cousin before the van departed for MUSC.
“All she said was, ‘It’s a mess,’?” the woman said.
The S.C. Attorney General’s Office has recorded 50 convictions for patient-related crimes since fiscal 2009. Only two of those involved physical abuse or neglect. The others involved financial exploitation.