Southampton Landing had been open for 10 months when Sandy McBride was hired as Director of Health and Welfare, the second highest position in the Aged Community, which provides personal care services, a assistance and supervision to residents.
She was the third person to serve as a director in less than a year, McBride said. It lasted seven weeks.
McBride said she quit in September 2020, fearing that if she stayed any longer she would jeopardize her state nurse license.
“I’m still traumatized by it,” McBride said recently. “I wanted to do my best, and for me that meant more direct care than I should have done.”
McBride is among four former workers at the 109-bed Upper Southampton personal care home who say they were ostracized, threatened, intimidated and in some cases fired for questioning former trustees Ashley Harker and Joy Alfonsi for speaking out about their outside concerns. agencies and corporate officers.
A former receptionist is suing the facility in Bucks County Court, alleging she was wrongfully fired for refusing to stop alerting others to issues she says endangered residents’ safety .
Philadelphia resident Jeanne Black says a family photo on her desk was vandalized, she was given a threatening note and she received reprimands after she drew attention to concerns about the safety of residents.
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Black’s lawsuit was filed three months before Harker, 37, of Philadelphia, and Alfonsi, 47, of Souderton were arrested following a Bucks County grand jury investigation that alleges they weren’t failed to report the sexual abuse of three residents by another resident and attempted to cover up the incidents over the past year.
Both women were fired from their jobs in October.
Harker, the former chief executive, awaits trial in Bucks County Court. Attorney Craig Penglase, who represents Harker, did not respond to an email request for comment.
A lawyer for Alfonsi, who waived his preliminary hearing on Thursday, said his client “categorically denies” the former employee’s allegations.
“It looks like they’re coming from disgruntled former employees,” Alfonsi’s attorney Martin Mullaney said.
Leisure Care vice president of east coast operations Michael Juno also declined to comment, citing active litigation involving Black. The Seattle-based company operates senior care communities across the country.
Former employees said they told company executives how Harker discouraged them from filing mandatory incident reports and calling 911 for emergencies involving residents.
Among the biggest safety issues Black cited in her lawsuit was what she called a “permanent rule” that Harker implemented that staff were not allowed to call 911 under any conditions before to be contacted.
The nursing home had a history of violationsUpper Southampton home for the aged had a history of breaches before the administrator’s arrests, records show
They also complained of understaffing issues and non-compliance with company policies.
During his first week on the job, McBride said Harker ordered him to end the medical practice used by the facility, but none of the residents signed an agreement for the new practice. The change led to complaints because the new practice did not take up some of the insurance coverage residents enjoyed, meaning they could end up with out-of-pocket bills.
She remembered that a resident in the memory care unit needed a medication refill, but the doctor who ordered it was from the previous practice. McBride had to scramble to find a doctor to rehabilitate him, she said.
McBride also said she never received the credentials and certifications of every staff member who administered medication, although state law only allows registered nurses or those certified by the state to do so.
Shortly before quitting, McBride said she was working at least 50 hours a week due to a staff shortage, which was overwhelming, she said.
Typically, only two employees — a direct caregiver and a medication technician — were available to serve the facility’s 18 residents during her tenure, and sometimes she had to perform those duties as well.
McBride recalled an incident where an employee called her home after a 92-year-old resident with a catheter and heart issues had an unwitnessed fall. The employee wanted to know what she should do. Call 911, McBride told her.
The employee later called McBride crying and ready to quit after Harker threatened to fire her for calling 911. Harker imposed a rule that employees were not allowed to call 911 under any circumstances before to call it, McBride said.
Black also argues in his lawsuit that there was a “permanent rule” that 911 was never to be called without first contacting Harker.
In his professional opinion, McBride also felt that Harker was accepting people with more complicated medical issues than The Landing was prepared to handle as a personal care facility. She ended up changing support plans for some residents who needed more services.
She recalls a time when Harker and the memory care manager assessed a potential resident at a qualified nursing home, a job that was part of McBride’s responsibilities.
When McBride asked if the man was suitable for a facility with less intensive services, Harker hesitated, saying the man’s brother was willing to sign the contract. McBride said Harker relented and allowed her to go assess him.
McBride said he found a man bedridden, unable to walk, incontinent, unable to feed himself and suffering from psychosis.
“I was wondering if (Harker) had seen the same guy,” McBride said.
She ended up calling the man’s brother and told him she thought he wouldn’t be a good fit. Harker was furious, McBride said.
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McBride’s allegations were mirrored by the facility’s first health and wellness director, Brandi Carl, who held the position for four months before stepping down after an incident in which she alleges Harker refused to allow him to destroy prescription drugs confiscated from a resident.
“She said, ‘I’ll take care of it,'” Carl said. “I immediately gave my two weeks’ notice; it’s my nursing license.
After putting in her notice, Carl said she wrote to chief operating officer Michael Juno, informing him that she was leaving because Harker was not following company policy and state regulations. She reiterated her concerns during an exit interview with him the next day.
In an email response to questions, Juno, vice president of east coast operations for Leisure Care, declined to comment, citing Black’s lawsuit.
The day after her resignation, Carl said she delivered an anonymous report to the state about Harker not following regulations and followed it up with an email to the Department of Human Services, which regulates personal care homes. No one from the agency ever contacted her, she said.
The drug disposal incident was not the first time Harker had done something to avoid following state regulations and company policy, Carl said.
Carl recalled that the day before the state inspection related to obtaining his business license, the heating in the gym was not working. She alleges that Harker installed heaters in the room, left them on overnight, and removed them before detectives arrived.
“To me, it’s just misleading,” Carl said. “You’re wrong and I thought I was not okay with that, but at that point, it’s one of those things in hindsight.”
During her short stay at The Landing, Carl said she wrote three incident reports: one for a hospice patient who fell and broke her hip, one for a resident who fell and died. broke his wrist and a third for a deceased resident.
She said Harker insisted that she receive the completed state forms by email and would review them before forwarding them to the state, which Carl found odd.
“I originally thought she wanted to watch them because I had never been a director before, although I had done incident reports in the past,” Carl said. “Then I thought maybe it was because she was such a control freak…. Now I wonder if they’ve ever been dispatched.