Dignity Senior Living at Oceanside Hawaii in Hauula has received an eleventh-hour reprieve.
Residents had been given short notice that they were required to be out of the facility by today because of a license revocation letter received by the facility.
But late Thursday afternoon, Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said the agency and the facility had signed a consent order and settlement agreement that “allows Dignity until no later than May 31 to transfer or discharge all residents.”
It was a welcome relief for the residents, especially those who had no place to go.
On Thursday morning a long, curving, tree-lined driveway and lush, landscaped grounds gave Dignity Senior Living a serene look.
But around back, in the porte-cochere, a resident sobbed as he asked a visiting relative for help. He’d been told he had to move out by today but had no place to go.
Another resident, Francis Sing, 102, and his visiting son, Tom Sing, were more upbeat, although the younger Sing admitted it was stressful, as they’d been notified of the closure only six days before, and they’d been looking at other facilities for his father but there was “nothing solid yet.”
On April 12 the state Department of Health Office of Health Care Assurance sent a notice of license revocation letter to Dignity Senior Living because Adult Protective Services issued a finding of neglect against the facility (not individual employees), Okubo wrote in an email, adding the Hauula facility requested a hearing to contest the order April 23.
The management of the facility had not responded to requests for comment by press time, but Hilton Raethel, president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, the nonprofit trade association for Hawaii’s assisted-living facilities, as well as hospitals and other care facilities and organizations, said HAH was eager to help.
“We are very, very concerned for the people there and their families,” Raethel said, noting that while the Hauula facility was not a member of HAH, “the revoking of Oceanside’s state license is a matter of concern for everyone because (it) affects the entire community.”
He said several HAH member facilities had reached out to offer assistance and to see whether Oceanside residents could find other places to live within care settings that best fit their individual needs, “but HAH has not learned of any positive responses to these offers of assistance.”
Meanwhile, some people were moving out, although others, like Sing and resident Garland Connally, were on tenterhooks, facing today’s expected deadline.
Connally, 79, who stood outdoors with her walker, smoking a cigarette and feeding some chickens, said eight of her friends at Oceanside already had moved out, and some were leaving Thursday.
“I’m in shock. I miss my friends a lot, I can’t sleep and the dining room is so empty,” said the Kaimuki native and retired registered nurse, who worked in a hospital, raised her family and retired in California until she returned to Oahu a year ago at the request of a daughter who lives here.
Some of her friends had moved into foster homes, and others had been placed in other facilities by Medicaid, but as a privately enrolled patient. “I have to find my own place, and I don’t drive,” she said, adding her daughter had found a place, but it was no go because it wouldn’t take Connally’s cats.
Connally liked a place in Hawaii Kai where some of her friends had moved, but it was too expensive for her: “It costs $3,800-$4,000 a month, and then I couldn’t afford a caregiver, which I need, because I can’t drive.”
Asked whether she’d observed any incidents of neglect, Connally said no, but added things had improved since she moved in in June. “Now we’ve got registered nurses passing out our medications, (whereas) before we didn’t.”
She added, “I know there were some serious problems, but we’ve all been vaccinated for COVID and none of us got the virus, except three people who caught it when they were in the hospital, and they didn’t come back.”
Oceanside had very strict coronavirus rules, which she appreciated, Connally said. For instance, residents had to stay in their rooms for three days after visiting a doctor.
The staff were all nice, hardworking and helpful, she said.
One of the staff members came outside to tell Connally her birds were lonely.
“She feeds everything, except not the wild pigs anymore,” the staff member, who asked not to be identified, said with a warm laugh.
Star-Advertiser photographer Craig Kojima contributed to this story.