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The transition

  • CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Maryann Musselman sits on the bed in her room at Edgemont Lodge Assisted Living in Lansford. Musselman moved to Edgemont after the state closed her previous residence, Eastern Comfort Assisted Living in Palmerton.
    CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS Maryann Musselman sits on the bed in her room at Edgemont Lodge Assisted Living in Lansford. Musselman moved to Edgemont after the state closed her previous residence, Eastern Comfort Assisted Living in Palmerton.
Published July 28. 2010 05:00PM

Maryann Musselman sits on the twin bed in her cozy room at Edgemont Lodge Assisted Living facility in Lansford. On a table nearby, a ceramic angel, given her by a staff member, sits beside a graceful frosted-glass lamp. More angels rest on a shelf beneath the air conditioner. Musselman's wall-hangings, all expressing her strong religious faith, are placed carefully on elegant, beige-on-beige satin wallpaper.

Musselman was among the 26 residents of Eastern Comfort assisted living facilities IV and V in Palmerton, who were forced to move when the homes were shut down by the state Department of Public Welfare on July 9 because of repeated uncorrected health and safety violations dating to 2008. Eastern Comfort owner Steven J. Miga of Bethlehem has blamed his staff for the problems, saying he was never at the facility, at 2941 Cherry Hill Rd., near Parryville.

The residents were sent to various other facilities, including Edgemont, a former hotel-turned-assisted living facility on the outskirts of Lansford.

Musselman, 67, says she likes Edgemont, but still looks forward to getting a space in Palmer House, the subsidized housing building in Palmerton.

"I'm next on the list," she says.

But she's happy here, and feels safe, she says.

"The workers are excellent, excellent. I love my room."

An intercom hangs on the wall near the door, and a sprinkler system snakes overhead. Musselman has her own bathroom, but must use a common shower, supervised by staff.

Musselman has her own pillow cases, blankets and foldable grocery cart, brought from Eastern Comfort. Most of her precious angels are packed in a cardboard box in the closet; her new room is too small for them to be displayed. One large angel is displayed downstairs, in the common room that, decades ago, reverberated with lively polka music by well-known bands such as the King Brothers, and the thunder of dancing feet.

Now, the spacious room is filled with comfy, well-worn furniture. Residents watch television, piece together puzzles or select books from the shelves that line a well-lit corner. Musselman says the facility also offers bowling and bingo. Round wooden tables near the kitchen are labeled with each resident's name.

According to state Department of Public Welfare records, Edgemont is a for-profit facility. It can house 47 residents, but as of Feb. 19, had only 28. Administrator Corey Perry said on Tuesday the home now has 43 residents, some of whom were relocated from Eastern Comfort.

Edgemont, too has had violations, and in October 2009 was put on a provisional license until April 20, 2010. On May 24, DPW issued a full license, in effect through May 24, 2011.

In an Oct. 19, 2009 letter to Edgemont President Jerome Perry, DPW Deputy Secretary Kevin T. Casey wrote that as a result of inspections on Sept. 5, 2009 and Sept. 17, 2009, the home's current license would be revoked and a provisional license issued based on Perry's plan to correct the violations.

The violations included: failing to maintain copies of reportable incidents forms on two residents who passed away in June and July of 2009; failing to have signs on common bathroom indicating which gender is using the room at the time and whether the room is occupied; failing to include proof of high school graduation for a staff person in her records; an administrator completed only 21 of the required 24 hours of training for 2008; a strong odor of urine in a bedroom; the inside lid of a toilet labeled for women in a common bathroom had large streaks of red; a toilet stall labeled for men in a common bathroom had a strong odor of urine and the bowl was heavily stained; kitchen stove exhaust duct work had duct tape hanging, allowing for a six-inch wide opening; a 4.5-inch by six-inch opening around an oil pipe leading to the outside of the building; a window near an outside dryer vent was broken and a pane missing; handrails on outside steps were loose; no handrail at a fire exit; a broken lamp shade in a bedroom; an undated bag of frozen fish sticks in the freezer, and dented cans of peaches in the pantry; failing to have a fire drill during sleeping hours within a six-month period; cigarette butts outside near the kitchen entrance near bushes and trees; a direct care staff who gives medications failed to complete any of the four required medication administration observations during the initial training for medication, with a pass date of 5/4/07, signed by a trainer; four medications were not kept in a locked container in a resident's bedroom; an expired medication was in a bedroom; one resident, diagnosed with agitation, and was prescribed and given a medication that DPW contends constitutes a "medical restraint."

All of the violations were corrected as of an inspection on Feb. 9, 2010, and on May 11, 2010, Casey again wrote to Perry, granting restoration of the license.

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