‘These Promises Were a Lie:' Vt. AG Settles With Former Senior Care Center

Spring Village in Essex Junction lied about what levels of care it could offer to people with Alzheimer's or dementia, according to the AG

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A Maryland-based business will never operate in Vermont again and will pay $120,000 under a settlement with the state over what Attorney General T.J. Donovan called “deplorable” conduct and violations of state consumer protection laws.

The managers of what was known from December 2014 to April 2018 as Spring Village in Essex Junction advertised they could take care of people through all stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, Donovan said, so those seniors wouldn’t face disruptive moves to different facilities toward the ends of their lives.

“These promises were a lie,” the attorney general insisted Monday when announcing the terms of the settlement.

The Democrat said in reality, Spring Village wasn’t licensed for that level of care, meaning residents couldn’t age in place as they were told.

The result was loved ones were suddenly left facing discharge notices for seniors who had many needs, according to Donovan’s office.

“This isn’t just a matter of marketing,” Donovan said. “It’s a matter of public health and public safety. It’s a matter of dignity.”

The AG said that switch violated state consumer protection laws.

Under the settlement details shared with reporters Monday, Woodbine Senior Living, LLC of Maryland will never do business in Vermont again.

Additionally, Woodbine will pay $120,000 that’ll be split between the state, the Alzheimer’s Association, and 48 affected families.

“It was an incredibly painful and gut-wrenching experience for those of us who brought loved ones to Spring Village,” said Bruce Bottamini, whose late wife lived at Spring Village. “We believed in and trusted what Woodbine had told us.”

“We hope that when we place our family members in residential care, which is so costly that it depletes an entire life savings, that the facility will actually be equipped to provide the care that they promise,” noted Mia Groff, whose late mother also lived at Spring Village.

According to a letter from Woodbine’s legal counsel included in the settlement agreement, families that accept $1,000 payments from Woodbine would waive their rights to file legal claims against Woodbine or its leadership related to the subject of the settlement.

The facility has new owners and managers, and now operates as a memory care center called Maple Ridge, which Donovan emphasized has done nothing wrong.

Because many consumers may not know the differences between nursing homes, assisted living, and residential care properties—and what services each is licensed to provide—the AG has teamed with the Vermont Agency of Human Services on what they call a consumer guide to long-term care in Vermont.

That consumer guide is available here.

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