State quiet on North Pole center's closing

Adult Protective Services called to find immediate care for seniors

Posted: Friday, April 02, 2010

FAIRBANKS - Days after seniors were evicted from a North Pole assisted-living center with no warning, the state remains quiet on its reason for taking the action.

The Division of Public Health's certification and licensing program ordered the closure of Forget Me Not Senior Care Homes on Friday. According to Alaska law, the state can immediately revoke a license if it believes a violation presents an immediate danger to the health, safety or welfare of someone receiving care.

Program director Karen Darby declined comment on what violation spurred Forget Me Not's closure, citing the active investigation.

"I know it's not an answer that folks want to hear sometimes," she said.

Forget Me Not is owned by Brenda and Gregry Ratzlaff, who did not return phone messages seeking comment.

The state's Adult Protective Services program was called Friday afternoon to find immediate care for the seniors. APS is generally warned weeks in advance that a facility might be closing, but there are exceptions, manager Brenda Mahlatini told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

"Every once in a while, emergencies happen," she said.

APS attempted to get in touch with residents' emergency contacts. Six who could not be picked up were brought to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital because their medical needs were uncertain.

"Normally, we try to gather as much information as we can, but in this case we did not know who was in the home before the evacuation," Mahlatini said.

The abrupt dispersal drew swift criticism from North Pole Mayor Doug Issacson, who said he was dismayed that seniors were placed in unfamiliar situations with no warning.

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