SEBRING — Roach infestation; black mold; leaking roofs; staffing shortages; unclean rooms; poor nutritional programs; over-charging residents and claims of intimidation and elder abuse of residents and more are the allegations lodged against Magnolia Retirement Home at 149 Magnolia Ave.
Highlands News-Sun was made aware of these complaints against the facility, which houses nearly 40 live-in residents, by both former employees and residents. One had to ask; could the complaints have been revenge from disgruntled employees?
Two former employees were willing to go “on record.” After initial interviews, Stephanie Taylor and Candace Gonzales were able to provide the paper with the names of the local and state agencies they reported the abuse and neglect to. Both women reported the problems while they still worked at the facility. They left a paper trail to add validity to their complaints.
Taylor said she was fired the day after the state agency, Agency for Health Care Administration, came to interview her, the residents and the Magnolia Retirement Home Administrator Dennis Domisiw about her concerns. She said Domisiw told her she “wasn’t a good fit.”
Complaints were lodged with Highlands County Code Enforcement as well as the Florida Department of Health and with City of Sebring fire inspectors.
AHCA’s website provides data on each retirement home, which is classified as assisted living. Over the past year, Magnolia Retirement Home has, by far, the most number of complaints for assisted living facilities in Highlands County listed on the website.
The most recent complaints noted on Department of Health reports state that on June 25 officials found food stored on the floor, unclean conditions and odors, leaks in ceilings, an exit door was corroding and a wall collapsing, noticeable mold both by sight and smell, dim lighting, and cockroach and ant infestations. The inspector flagged the report in red ink “Unsatisfactory.” The re-inspection date was July 9.
The results of that inspection were unsatisfactory, despite some improvements. The inspector noted roof repairs need to be completed as soon as possible. The report indicated an August deadline for the repairs. Another re-inspection will be done on Aug. 17.
Taylor and Gonzales said Domisiw would threaten to evict and embarrass residents on a regular basis.
“I remember when one gentlemen complained about the food,” Taylor said. “Dennis became belligerent and threatened to throw him out. The man has no family to help him if he did get kicked out.”
Both women said they used their own money to buy food and items for residents. Taylor said Domisiw charges residents for toiletries and food, even when it is donated.
Taylor also said the facility is unclean and the administrator “does just enough before inspections not to get shut down.”
In a report on April 27, inspector Michael Barry with the Health Department did another re-inspection from previous complaints. In the comments section, he wrote about the cleanliness, “Things are much better, but work still in process. We will return on May 25.”
By May 25, the inspector used more red ink to mark the report “Unsatisfactory.”
In between the Health Department visits, on May 8, AHCA did an inspection where it found:
• Vacancies due to roach infestation.
• The administrator failed to “maintain the minimum required direct care staffing hours for the census of 32 residents.”
• Units with no hot water.
• Rooms with “sunken ceilings, black mold-like substance on walls and ceilings.”
The annual Fire Inspection Report from the City of Sebring by Fire Chief Robert Border showed the need for improvement:
• “Install GFCI outlets in bathrooms within 6 feet of water source.”
• All rooms must have smoke detectors.
Gonzales and Taylor have both remarked on the fire alarm system not working.
Border gave an update in a subsequent phone call. He said technically Magnolia Retirement Home failed the inspection and “when they do not have any violations, they will pass.”
Border said the GFCI outlets have been installed and that Domisiw told him the rooms that did not have detectors in them were vacant because of water damage from a roof leak and that there was no power to the rooms. Border ordered them [smoke detectors] to be re-installed as soon as the roof was fixed.
The current property owners of 149 Magnolia Ave. are Manuel M. and Priscilla C. Domisiw, who have been the licensee/owner since Oct. 13, 1994, according to AHCA records. The total assessed value of the property per the Highlands County Property Appraiser’s Office is $1,033,062. In May 1996, the property was transferred via a warranty deed in the amount of $840,000, according to the Property Appraiser’s website.
Magnolia Retirement Home Inc. is licensed through Sept. 29, 2018.
The facility has a capacity of 57 beds with approximately 37 residents, where the number of residents slightly fluctuated at the time of the Department of Health’s inspections census.
Domisiw did not answer phone calls and was not on site at the facility when comments were sought.
To find information on health care facilities, visit ahca.myflorida.com.