Stunning shutdown: families and staff upset over local long term care closures

Lynn reached out to WCTV again on April 7, 2022, frustrated, after the memory care’s parent company, Sodalis Senior Living, announced that facility and another
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 8:35 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - In February 2022, WCTV introduced you to Lynn and Lysle Robinson.

Lysle, a resident of Sodalis Tallahassee Memory Care, has a form of dementia.

Lynn contacted WCTV after the facility banned visitation for several weeks due to COVID.

Those restrictions were stricter than current state and federal guidance.

Less than 24 hours after WCTV investigated this, Lynn was allowed back in to see her husband.

She said after that, life was returning to normal.

However, she told our Abby Walton, that feeling was short lived.

Lynn reached out to WCTV again on April 7, 2022, frustrated, after the memory care’s parent company, Sodalis Senior Living, announced that facility and another in Quincy would close on April 25, 2022.

Their assisted living facility in Tallahassee would remain open.

Sodalis said the reason for the closures was pandemic hardships and increasing labor costs.

The quick closure raised red flags for Lynn and us.

So, we started digging and what we found was upsetting.

Lynn told us in March 2022, several long-time staff from Sodalis Tallahassee Memory Care, resigned.

“I asked her ‘why?’ and she said, ‘I truly believe they’re going to close.” and I said, ‘well, have you heard anything?’ and she said, ‘well, not directly,” Lynn said.

On March 23, 2022, Lynn emailed Sodalis Regional Director, Dennis Knapp.

Lynn asked if the memory care and assisted living facilities were going to be combined.

On Friday, March 25, 2022, at 10:30 a.m., Knapp wrote back and said, “Nothing official has come down.”

But hours after that email, the facility’s executive director confirmed their suspicions.

“She said, ‘I just got word we’re closing April 25th and the facility in Quincy, they’re closing that one too,” Lynn said.

That following Monday, March 28, 2022, Lynn emailed Dennis Knapp again and said, “Imagine my surprise when I was told Friday that the memory care facility was closing.”

Lynn said Knapp never responded to that email.

In the Sodalis contract, that Lynn signed, it states, if she decides to place Lysle somewhere else, she must give the company a 30-day written notice.

Lynn showed WCTV her contract, including what it said if Sodalis decided to end the contract, stating, “We may terminate this Residency Agreement at any time and for any reason by delivering you a notice of termination, which states the reason for the termination, at least 45 days prior to the date of termination set forth in our notice.”

Lynn said families did not get 45 days’ notice.

The contract also states both parties must give termination notices in writing.

To date, Lynn said she’s never received anything in writing from Sodalis addressed to her or Lysle regarding the closure.

However, when she asked the assisted living facility in Tallahassee for her copy, she was given another resident’s letter.

She said the first week of April 2022, a letter from Sodalis did come to her home, but it was addressed to another resident and caregiver, so she took it back to the facility.

“What got me the most is the lack of compassion and concern for the patients, for the families and for the people that worked for them,” Lynn said.

WCTV emailed the Agency for Healthcare Administration or AHCA on April 11, 2022, asking when Sodalis notified them of the closures.

They’re the agency in charge of regulating Florida’s long-term care facilities.

AHCA responded the next day and said the agency received “no notification of closure prior to WCTV reaching out.”

The email went on and said, “As we’re now aware of the current situation, AHCA has reached out to them in regard to the closure.”

“It’s a big deal because closing a long-term care facility is different than closing some other kind of establishment,” Marshall Kapp, professor emeritus at Florida State University said.

Professor Kapp is an expert in long-term care policy at the state and national levels.

“There actually is such a phenomenon as ‘transfer trauma’ where people suffer trauma who many not understand what’s going on,” Kapp said.

Kapp said that’s why Florida has several statutes in place to make sure AHCA is notified of a closure to help residents, like Lysle, prepare for the change.

One statute that talks about licensure of these facilities requires 30 days’ notice.

The other, known as the ‘Residents Bill of Rights’ requires a 45-day notice by the facility to residents and their families.

It’s the same statute, outlined in Lynn’s contract with Sodalis.

“You see changes in ownership with some frequency for a variety of reasons, but just voluntarily going out of business, is pretty uncommon,” Kapp said.

Last week, WCTV called and emailed Sodalis Senior Living several times for comment but did not get a response.

However, on April 18, 2022, WCTV contacted the Florida Senior Living Association to see if Sodalis was a member.

They are and reached out to the president of Sodalis Senior Living, Traci Taylor-Roberts for comment.

That evening, she issued this statement, “In the process of closing the two communities in North Florida, an unfortunate misstep by outside counsel resulted in letters to residents, family members and state regulators not being sent early enough to satisfy regulatory requirements. We sincerely regret this and have worked hard to assist the residents and their family members in transitioning to new communities, offering anyone additional time to complete the move beyond the stated date if necessary. We also offered to reimburse moving costs up to $1,000 per resident, and we are actively following up on each reimbursement request within the required 30-day window. As of last week, each of our residents has been placed in a new community, and the transfers to our local community have been reviewed and confirmed as appropriate by state regulators.”

Lynn moved Lysle to a facility in Thomasville on April 7, 2022.

She said the transition has been tough on both of them and hearing from Sodalis now, is too little, too late.

“I understand the bottom line. I understand a corporation’s need to make money, but you supposedly are in the business of helping and caring for people. What happened to that?” Lynn said.

Lynn said Sodalis charged her for the seven days Lysle was at the facility in April.

She said they later agreed to refund her money after she threatened to call a lawyer.

As stated by Sodalis, they did agree to comp Lynn for moving expenses.

Sodalis told Lynn that refund went out April 11, 2022.

As of April 20, 2022, Lynn told WCTV she still has not received her refund from Sodalis.

As far as AHCA, they said they can’t confirm to WCTV about the existence of or comment about any ongoing investigations.

However, AHCA said, if a facility fails to notify them of a closure, the agency can impose fines or sanctions.

Lynn’s story, one of several that WCTV has heard, regarding these closures.

So, if you had a loved one at Sodalis Tallahassee Memory Care or the Assisted Living facilities in Tallahassee or Quincy, you can file a complaint by calling 1-888-419-3456 or you can file a complaint online at https://apps.ahca.myflorida.com/hcfc/ If you’d like to share your story with Abby Walton, contact her at abby.walton@wctv.tv or message her on Facebook at AbbyWaltonWCTV.

The memory care’s parent company, Sodalis Senior Living, announced that facility and another in...
The memory care’s parent company, Sodalis Senior Living, announced that facility and another in Quincy would close on April 25, 2022.(WCTV)
The memory care’s parent company, Sodalis Senior Living, announced that facility and another in...
The memory care’s parent company, Sodalis Senior Living, announced that facility and another in Quincy would close on April 25, 2022.(WCTV)

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