Michigan woman Mary T. Tahtinen was arrested January 10, 2014, and charged with multiple counts of owning and operating unlicensed adult assisted care facilities. She is also accused of hiring inexperienced workers with no background checks to care for the residents. A preliminary exam is scheduled for January 21, 2014. If convicted Tahtinen could face up to two years in jail on each count. The facilities, known as Ivy Place, had been under investigation since late August 2013.
Sheriff Robert Pickell of the Elder Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Unit, and the Elder Abuse Task Force, conducted the investigation after receiving a complaint from a Department of Human Services agent.
There is no evidence that Tahtinen ever applied for licensing through the State of Michigan. The facilities, known as Ivy Place, are described on the company website as:
“…a small non-skilled home, located in Southern Genesee County, providing homey, rural, and cost effective residential Assisted Living, “Room-and-Board,” and respite care solutions.
Four properties within Genesee County were investigated – in Burton, Flint Township, Thetford Township, and Montrose Township. Twenty-two residents ranging in ages from 36 to 84 were relocated to other homes during the investigation.
In one of the homes, officers found a 54 year-old woman who told them she had fallen to the floor of her upstairs bedroom and had been there for more than 24 hours because there was no one to help her get up. The house also smelled strongly of urine and was an unbearable 85 degrees in August because workers had been instructed to keep the air conditioning off in order to keep utility bills down.
One former worker, who had no experience as a caregiver, spoke to reporters in September 2013 and said that Tahtinen hired him through a Craig’s List ad. He also said she fired him for raising concerns about the quality of care the residents were receiving.
Without oversight and licensing, facilities such as Ivy’s Place could go unchecked and the elderly people living in those homes would be at great risk for abuse and neglect. Care workers should be licensed and undergo background checks. In Oakland County, senior citizens and their families can go to the Senior Resource Directory for useful information on choosing an appropriate, licensed facility.