Assisted Living Center facing lawsuit - Philadelphia News

July 31, 2008 8:51:01 PM PDT
Jim Reilly was one of the original dancers on American Bandstand, but his sister said while his life was glamorous at one time, his death was anything but.

"He drowned in the bathtub, he was behind a locked door, if he called out for help no one could get to him," his sister Joan Scipione, of Bensalem, said.

She blames Torrey House, an assisted living center in Haverford. Jim moved there when he was 55 and due to mental illness, could no longer live alone.

Scipione is now sueing 'Carelink Community Support Services.' It runs Torrey House and other facilities in Pennsylvania. Her lawyer, Jeffrey Killino, said Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare found several violations when Torrey House was inspected after the incident. "There were so many chances and so many things this facility could have done, but failed to do," Killino said.

Inspection reports show workers at the center failed to account for Reilly's whereabouts for more than an hour. Killino said Reilly's plan of care shows he's supposed to be checked every hour and needs help bathing.

Plus a document from the Department of Public Welfare also shows at the time, workers at Torrey House had no keys to get inside residents' locked bathroom doors.

Stacey Witalec, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, said due to Jim's death and other violations found, Torrey House's license was downgraded on June 8th, 2007 from an annual license to a provisional six-month license. That was four months after the incident. During that time, Witalec said the center was closely monitored. "You want to make sure that the circumstances don't ever exist again that something like that or of that magnitude could happen in the future," she said in an interview over the phone.

Carelink's C.E.O., Eileen Joseph told Action News due to pending litigation she can't comment on the case. But she did release this statement: "We are saddened by the death of Mr. Reilly. The violations cited in the Department of Public Welfare's report as of June 8, 2007 have been corrected and a full license has been reinstated as of November 2007.

Scipione said she wants to make sure what happened to her brother doesn't happen to anyone else. "These are human beings and need to be taken care of," she said.

If you are looking for a personal care home for your loved one, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare recommends:

-Visiting several times at different times of the day and night

-Visit as many rooms as possible

-Ask about staff training and qualifications

-Ask how long staff have worked at the home

-Watch interaction between the staff and residents

-Check that center is fully-licensed under a regular, annual license