ABC15 undercover investigation: Filthy conditions, bed bugs at assisted living facility

An undercover ABC15 investigation has found filthy living conditions, bed bugs and allegations of resident neglect at a Valley assisted living facility that gets thousands of taxpayer dollars a month.

The Lodge at 14th Street houses more than 30 residents who have mental illness, physical disabilities, or both. Many of the residents are on Medicaid.

The ABC15 Investigators went undercover and also obtained photos from people inside the facility. The photos and video show evidence of past and current bug issues, filthy mattresses with stains of dead bed bugs and blood, and residents in tattered and dirty clothing.

Click on the photo tab above to see undercover photos

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Mike Wright, an attorney with the firm Udall Shumway, who’s handled hundreds of abuse and neglect cases involving assisted living and nursing homes.

“This is highly unusual. It’s heartbreaking,” he said.

Insider Speaks Out

ABC15 interviewed a staff member who worked directly with the residents. When asked how The Lodge compares to other facilities, the staff member said, “This is the worst I’ve ever seen, ever, by far.”

The Lodge at 14th Street is licensed as a “directed care” facility. The Arizona Department of Health Services states that type of facility provides “programs and services, including personal care services, provided to persons who are incapable of recognizing danger, summoning assistance, expressing need or making basic care decisions.”

Some of the The Lodge’s residents need help with things taking medications, using the bathroom and feeding.

“They live like they are homeless,” the staff member said. “The floors are not clean. On the walls, you can see yellow and black stains. It’s just disgusting.”

The staff member and residents told us that only one or two caregivers work at any given time for all of the patients.

“That’s very low staffing, extremely low,” Wright said. “I think most assisted care facilities will have two caregivers for 10 patients. Maybe at night they will have one caregiver. Thirty patients to one caregiver, I’ve never seen that kind of a staffing level.“

One Resident’s Story

The ABC15 Investigators were invited into the facility by a resident named James. He has physical disabilities. ABC15 agreed not to use his last name.

James said he’s lived at The Lodge for two years and agreed to take us inside to show us his room.

We asked James what it was like to live there. He told us, it was “hell.”

James flipped his mattress and showed us a blood spot and dead bed bugs. He also opened a small container where he was keeping bed bugs he caught the day before.

James’ room was extremely dirty. He told us he couldn’t remember the last time it was cleaned.

“I’m living in bed bugs, just living in torment,” he said.

The staff member we spoke to said many of the residents have no one to turn to. “No one is listening. A lot of them have no family. They don’t have a voice.”

The Owner Responds

The Lodge’s owner and CEO is Austin Coggins.

Coggins said he’s owned the facility for several years. Coggins said some of his population is transient, and he takes in residents other places won’t.

Coggins denied any neglect.

“We deal with behavioral health,” he said. “We deal with some really tough residents here as far as behaviors go.”

Coggins said that they have a daily housekeeping service and regularly spray for bugs.

When we showed him the pictures of a mattress that appeared to have an issue with bed bugs, he told us, “Those are stains of bugs that have been killed. Those are not active bugs. See when the bugs are sprayed it leaves a stain on the mattress. Actually, that mattress should have been thrown out.”

After we spoke with Coggins, ABC15 learned that he had The Lodge sprayed for bugs and replaced mattresses at the facility for some residents.

A History of Issues

State inspection records show The Lodge has had problems in the past.

In 2007, inspectors cited 51 deficiencies in 15 different areas. As a result, the facility’s manager, Steven Martin, was disciplined and placed on probation.

Martin’s “actions, or lack thereof, fell below the Standard of Care for Managers and could have caused harm to the residents and the public,” according to a decision by The Arizona State Board of Examiners of Nursing Care Institution Administrators and Assisted Living Facility Managers.

Coggins said he still employs Martin.

More recently, the state found the facility had issues with medication administration and bed bugs. But no further action was taken.

Search state inspection history and complaints for The Lodge and other assisted living facilities.

Taxpayer Funded

Coggins said that the majority of the residents are on Medicaid. But he wouldn’t comment on the amount of income he brings in.

Attorney Mike Wright said most assisted living centers take in between $2,500 and $4,000 per Medicaid patient per month.

“They have good revenue, they ought to be able to provide,” he said. “This is a lousy facility just by looking at the pictures. And hearing

about the staffing levels, there ought to be something done.”

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dbiscobing@abc15.com .

 

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