Douglas Wolinsky will temporarily manage the Homestead at Harborview in St. Albans. Since last week, he has been overseeing the three other properties: the Homestead at Pillsbury in St. Albans and Pillsbury Manor South and Allenwood at Pillsbury, both in South Burlington.
Combined, they house some 200 seniors.
Andrew White, the founder of East Lake Capital Management, which owns the properties, was not present at a Montpelier court hearing Wednesday morning on the merits of the receivership. State officials allege that complaints about his facilities included lack of staffing and adequate food. Residents and their family members had complained that White was not cashing rent checks for months.
Relatives of some residents did go to court. Several of them expressed relief in the state's unusual decision to take control of the facilities and said they doubted White would ever be able to manage them properly.
"He has proved to be incapable of communicating with the staff at Pillsbury and Allenwood and, financially, has been irresponsible in every area of the business," said Deirdre Erb of Hinesburg.
Her 94-year-old mother, Anne Spencer, lives at Allenwood, "but we haven't received a bill since February," Erb said. Staff are "fabulous" she said, but they are stretched thin and vendors aren't being paid.
Although White told families this summer that the rent issue was a temporary glitch, the problem persisted. Nobody has a clue why White is not collecting the funds, Erb said. "He's a real enigma. I mean, who doesn't want to send out bills and take in money?"
Judge Mary Miles Teachout agreed to delay until December 10 a full hearing on the merits of the receivership arrangement.
Lisa Shelkrot, one of White's attorneys, said in court that he wants the same thing the state does: residents kept safe in well-managed properties. She declined to discuss additional details but said White would be at the December hearing.
White bought the properties in 2017, and since then a host of complaints have surfaced. Residents, their family members and staff have complained to state officials about fiscal and other management problems.
Harborview was not included in the state’s original court filing because it is not regulated as a residential care home by the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, according to a press release issued by Attorney General T.J. Donovan.
“I am very pleased that the receiver now has the opportunity to get Harborview back on track," Donovan said in the press release. "Those residents deserve the same peace of mind and security as the residents of the Pillsbury homes.”