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Vermont Attorney General Announces Settlement With Former Senior Care Facility Operator

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announces settlement with Woodbine Senior Living LLC
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announces settlement with Woodbine Senior Living LLC

The Vermont Attorney General has reached a settlement with a company for violating state law when it made claims that it could care for all the needs of aging patients with memory loss at a Vermont residential care facility.
Maryland-based Woodbine Senior Living LLC operated Spring Village at Essex in Essex Junction, a 56-bed residential care facility for the aged and people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan says the company lied to families about its patient care capabilities.  "Woodbine Senior Living, which I'll call Woodbine, managed a residential care home in Essex Junction, Vermont, between December 2014 and April 2018. Through its marketing it promised families they could care through all stages of dementia and Alzheimer's and have all their health care needs met at this facility. These promises were a lie. They were misleading. They were deceptive and that's why this is a violation of Vermont law.”

At a press conference Monday, Donovan, a Democrat, detailed the settlement with Woodbine.  “They are prohibited from doing business in the state of Vermont again. This is extreme, but we demanded this extreme result because we can't tolerate deception and, potential, the potential impacts that impact the care and the welfare of multiple Vermonters. Second Woodbine has agreed to pay $120,000 as follows: $62,000 to the state of Vermont; $1,000 each to 48 family members who moved loved ones to Spring Village or served as these residents quote responsible parties during the relevant period of time; and $10,000 to the Vermont chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. Let me say this about the money. It doesn't even come close to being enough. But this is what is allowed under our Vermont Consumer Protection Act.”

Bruce Bottamini chose the Woodbine facility in 2016 to care for his now late wife Phyllis after visiting at least 30 other facilities.  “The promises made on multiple occasions by Woodbine that Phyllis could age in place, and that they would provide end of life care for her, was a critical factor in my decision to take her there. We believed in and trusted what Woodbine had told us.  I'm still deeply saddened and troubled by what occurred. No person should have to deal with the kind of uncertainty that Spring Village families faced.”

Mia Groff’s mother was also a resident at Woodbine’s Spring Village.  “Families of individuals with dementia place their trust in facilities that care for our loved ones. We hope that when we place our family members in residential care, which is so costly that it depletes an entire life savings, that the facility will actually be equipped to provide the care that they promise. We hope that when we advocate for our loved ones and demand the care that we've been promised, that we'll not be treated with contempt by the very people that we trusted the most.”

In the wake of the settlement, Assistant Attorney General Jamie Renner said the Elder Protection Initiative has created a guide to help consumers understand the differences between nursing homes, assisted living residences and residential care homes in Vermont.  “The guide lays out the primary differences between nursing homes, assisted living residences and residential care homes in terms of restrictions on who is eligible to be a resident, restrictions on the level of care the facility can provide, facility staffing requirements, permitted discharge practices, and whether and when the state can grant exceptions or variances to these rules.”