Residents displaced as Donora care home shut down

by: Stacy Wolford, TribLIVE Updated:


DONORA, Pa. - A Donora personal care home with a history of violations was shut down Thursday, leaving dozens of residents temporarily homeless.

(This article was written by Stacy Wolford, a staff writer for Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.)

McKean Manor, located at 787-789 McKean Ave., was deemed dangerous and unfit for residents by borough code enforcement Officer Tim Durka following an early morning inspection.

State Department of Public Welfare officials from the Pittsburgh regional office went to Donora to assist with the emergency relocation of residents, a spokesman said.

Several residents sat on the front porch of the three-story building Thursday afternoon clutching black garbage bags containing their possessions.

Resident Ray Locke said he had been living at the facility for six months and was worried about his future.

“I have no idea where I'm going to stay,” he said.

Georgia Lewis said she had been at the facility since March and must look for a new home.

“I really just want to go back to my real home,” Lewis said.

Owner Veerasammy “Robbie” Perumal of Speers blamed electrical problems and a sewage backup in the basement for the closure. He said a resident caused a toilet to overflow, creating the sewage problem.

Perumal said he has owned the personal care home for four years. He also owns Annalisa's Personal Care Home in Perryopolis.

“We are finding everyone a place to stay,” Perumal said. “This is temporary. We will get everything fixed.”

Borough Administrator Dennis Fisher was with Durka during the inspection.

“The DPW came in ... two agents actually, came in to do a routine inspection,” Fisher said. “Within the first few minutes, they called Mr. Durka to come in. There were a lot of problems.

“The biggest thing was the extreme fire hazards due to the electrical issues.”

Fisher also cited plumbing issues at the facility, which housed 41 people.

“There's actually a long list of things that will be required to be fixed before anyone can go back to living there,” Fisher said. “It must be approved by Mr. Durka and an electrical and plumbing contractor.”

Councilman Jimmie Coulter scoffed at the idea that the building would be deemed habitable anytime soon.

“There's a lot of issues with that building,” Coulter said.

Denise Meyers, director at The Angelus Convalescent Center Inc. in Pittsburgh, said state welfare officials called her company to help with the emergency evacuation.

Meyers and mental health therapist Shannon Watson were seen helping residents carry out their belongings Thursday afternoon. Meyers said Angelus was going to provide housing for 10 residents.

“We are a deficient-free facility, and we want to do all we can to help these folks,” Meyers said.

Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services employees were also seen assisting residents.

McKean Manor's employees are out of work for the time being.

McKean Manor aide Shartaya Bell said she was getting ready to begin cleaning this morning when employees were notified of the shutdown.

“Everyone is really upset,” said Bell, who lives in Donora.

Yvonne Snodgrass, a secretary at the personal care home, said the facility is licensed to house up to 47 residents. She said most McKean Manor residents have “very low income” and most suffer from mental illness.

“We're going to make sure everyone is taken care of,” Snodgrass said.

History of violations

The welfare department has cited McKean Manor several times for violations. Its license runs through July 11.

The state downgraded its license to provisional Aug. 21, 2012, for failing to properly report 11 incidents, including sexual assaults.

McKean Manor was taken off provisional status July 11, 2013.

The following incidents were listed in state inspection reports for McKean Manor:

• On Feb. 12, 2012, two staff members witnessed and documented the alleged sexual assaults of two residents.

• On March 4, 2012, two staff members saw two residents in a physical altercation.

• On April 19, 2012, a resident allegedly forced another resident to perform a sex act on him. The incident allegedly was not reported until April 25.

• On April 22, 2012, two residents began fighting over the conditions of the common restroom. One resident suffered a broken nose.

Other than the April 19 incident, the report states none of the other incidents was reported to Area Agency on Aging officials, as required by the state.

The facility was cited for the following recent violations, according to state welfare department inspection reports:

• On Oct. 17, 2013, a resident in “deplorable condition” was transferred to a hospital. The resident suffered from scabies and had “mold under and above the skin on his feet.” The resident was covered in “layers of dirt and mold growing on his body,” and was wearing a belt that was covered in mold, the report states.

• On Sept. 10, 2013, a binder with residents' medical records was found unlocked and unattended on a filing cabinet in the kitchen. A full trash bag was on the floor of the medication room.

• During inspections May 9 and 10, 2013, officials reported that beds for residents were covered with quilts that had rips and tears. A garbage can was discovered open and overflowing with trash. The report states an employee changed a resident's prescription for pain medication without authorization. The resident had not received the medication for a week.

Corrective action plans were implemented for all of the violations, the report states.