Law firm to examine eviction of North Pole seniors

10 MOVED: Timing of evacuation questioned; all settling elsewhere.

April 2, 2010 

FAIRBANKS -- A nonprofit law firm that serves as a watchdog for disabled residents says it will examine the reasons behind the state's shutdown of a North Pole assisted-living facility.

Forget Me Not Senior Care Homes had its license suspended March 26, and the 10 residents were evacuated that afternoon. The state has yet to disclose what violations triggered the action.

Aside from trying to learn why the home closed, the Disability Law Center of Alaska will look into the state's handling of the evacuation. Some critics, such as North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson, contend the seniors shouldn't have been shifted so quickly into unfamiliar surroundings.

The Disability Law Center is designated by the federal government as Alaska's protection and advocacy agency. Federal law requires every state to have one. For its investigation, the center requested records from the state's licensing and certification program and Adult Protective Services.

If the state does not provide the information, DLC attorney Meg Allison Zaletel said, the firm usually follows up with letters and calls to higher-ups. Ultimately, the center can take the matter to federal court.

Adult Protective Services manager Brenda Mahlatini said her office forwarded the records request to the district attorney's office. APS' typical response is to provide the records but redact the names of complainants, she said.

Of the 10 seniors removed from the facility, four were placed in the care of family or guardians, and six were taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital for medical clearance, Mahlatini said.

Of those taken to the hospital, two are staying in the Denali Center, a long-term care facility associated with the hospital, and another has applied to live there. Three were cleared to live under the care of a former Forget Me Not administrator and his wife.

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