The state okayed the closure of a Park Slope old folks home without stopping to think that its eviction of elderly residents could mean their demise, a lawsuit by angry relatives claims.
Families and friends of seniors living in the Prospect Park Residence on Grand Army Plaza are suing the state Department of Health and the owner of the 134-unit facility, which is set to close next month after just 90 days notice. Management says that the nursing home was too cash-strapped to keep open, but the litigants argue that the sudden exit will cost their loved ones the medical care they need to survive. Adding insult to possibly mortal injury is the fact that the landlord has failed to keep up services since dropping the eviction bomb, according to a woman who signed onto the suit on behalf of her 89-year-old dad, an Alzheimer’s patient.
“It’s very traumatic to uproot someone with Alzheimer’s,” said Jennifer Stock, daughter of resident Jack Stock. “They don’t have the apparatus for coping with that kind of change in the way that someone who doesn’t have that illness would.”
There are very few assisted-living facilities in the area that are affordable and do not have wait-lists, according to Stock. The aggrieved lady also said she is working with a lawyer to get back a $4,000 fee that she paid to the facility to move in her father one year ago, claiming that the bosses knew the place was going to close and accepted her money anyway.
“I never would have moved him in there and paid that pretty high free if I didn’t think he could live there for the rest of his life,” she said. “In retrospective, it seems pretty fraudulent.”
Another woman is also suing on behalf of her 97-year-old father, a Holocaust survivor who has been living in the facility for more than three years and does not know that it is closing. She said Prospect Park Residence offers a lot of freedoms compared to other nursing homes — there is no curfew and family members can visit anytime, to name a few. It would be close to impossible to transport her dad to another facility because the move would be so disorienting, she added.
“There are a lot of people like my father for whom moving is an impossible option and would only mean that he would go downhill,” said the daughter, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s worth fighting to have his right to stay.”
The facility pledged to help the elderly tenants find new digs, but managers have only sent scant e-mails announcing other nursing home tours and have not addressed individual needs of tenants, according to the lawsuit. The residence’s landlord has also failed to tell residents’ families that he cannot close the place down until everyone has another place to live, according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs who said the state Department of Health is also to blame for signing off on the emptying-out.
“The Department of Health knew that there were insufficient alternative placements for residents at the Prospect Park Residence and yet the DOH rubber-stamped a completely inadequate plan,” said Legal Aid Society rep Judith Goldiner.
A Prospect Park Residence manager could not be reached for comment.