COOS BAY — A sign reading “Corporate owners failed residents” stood outside of Baycrest Memory Care on Wednesday.
“I’m here to represent the residents of this facility and others with dementia because they do not have a voice,” said longtime dementia advocate Thomas Blastic.
Baycrest Memory Care is shutting down in March, according to a press release sent out last week. The closure comes just as the Department of Human Services notified the facility of its intent to revoke their license.
“To have this place shut down, that has never been the intention of my advocacy but rather for the improvement of the quality of care,” Blastic said. “We need this type of care because clearly there is a need. The corporate owners choosing not to improve quality of care is abandoning the community.”
Blastic’s advocacy has taken him as far as the state legislature where he provided testimony following his mother-in-law’s experiences at Baycrest Memory Care.
Since then, it wasn’t until after The World reported the facility’s closure last week that Blastic felt the need to stand up again.
Blastic said once he read the article, he was both infuriated and taken aback by comments made by Baycrest Memory Care owners through a public relations firm. The comment that hurt Blastic the most was when the PR firm’s president wrote to The World in an email that the facility “is proud of the high quality care and services that it has always offered to its residents. The residents at all times have enjoyed safe and enriching living conditions.”
“That comment wasn’t true,” Blastic said. “They haven’t, as evidenced by the substantiated abuse cases. It rekindled my fire for advocacy.”
Blastic’s experience with Baycrest Memory Care began when his mother-in-law reached a point where she needed additional assistance that couldn’t be provided at home.
“We were very fortunate to have a room open here,” he said. “What began to transpire was the care issues ranging from medication errors to the lack of cleanliness in terms of when she was incontinent. She was not being cleaned properly, which resulted in urinary tract infections which then resulted in three trips to the emergency room.”
Blastic and his wife started to raise their concerns first to the facility. After no change, they went through the process available for families to contact their local DHS.
“We began documenting situations and as they were documented they were investigated,” he said. “During her stay there were at least six substantiated abuse cases just for her alone.”
During that time period, Blastic discovered 48 other substantiated abuse cases on the Oregon ombudsman website. The site now provides a link to the “Oregonian’s Searchable Database of Substantiated Facility Abuse Complaints,” which leads to complaints as recent as 2016.
“This is not normal for a facility to have these many problems,” Blastic said.
On September 22 of this year, DHS issued a notice with a statement of the facility’s license violation.
“Based on numerous pending Adult Protective Service Investigations, recently completed and substantiated Adult Protective Service Investigations and information received by the department, it has been determined that the facility is not in substantial compliance with the Oregon Administrative Rules for residential care facilities,” the statement read.
“The facility’s noncompliance placed residents at harm and risk for harm,” it continued. “The facility failed to provide affective administration oversight regarding residents’ quality of care and services. . . .”
Baycrest Memory Care’s conduct violated the following licensing rules, including:
“That’s the technical language for not providing care,” Blastic said.
While Blastic sat next to his homemade sign, protesting the mistreatment of the residents in the building nearby, employees driving into the parking lot waved and some took pictures of him through their car windows.
However, more than one approached him.
One employee gave an anonymous interview to The World, stating that the mismanagement at the facility is consistent and “everyone in the community knows it.”
When asked how they felt about the facility closing, they sarcastically said, “Happy holidays to residents and staff. I have no idea what I’ll do.”
“The staff really care,” they added. “Management . . . not so much.”
Wednesday was Blastic’s second day protesting outside of Baycrest Memory Care. On his first day, he had the cops called on him.
“It was weird because I had no negative interactions, I didn’t even talk to anyone,” Blastic said. “I just quietly sat here. I showed the officer my sign, where and how I was parked. They were sympathetic and understanding and said I have a first amendment right, I am on a public street and not causing a disturbance.”
Blastic’s biggest hope from his quiet protest is for more community members to get involved, especially local health care professionals.
“I haven’t seen any of that yet and it saddens me,” he said.
COOS BAY — Residents looking to start the new year with a nature hike will be happy to hear that five local state parks will be offering guided hikes on New Year’s Day.
Twenty-two Oregon State Parks statewide will be hosting a total of 24 hikes guided by park rangers and volunteers. Guides will provide insight into the specific park’s history, geology, wildlife, and plants. Day-use parking fees will be waived for all visitors at participating parks Jan. 1, only in those parks that have daily fees.
Area participating parks in southwestern Oregon include Bullards Beach, Sunset Bay, Humbug Mountain, and Tugman State Park.
This is the seventh year the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has joined America’s State Parks in the First Day Hikes nationwide event.
Bullards Beach State Park, located just north of Bandon will be hiking Pearl’s trail at 2 p.m. at the Bullards Beach Meeting hall. The two-mile hike shows off the natural diversity the park offers, sprawling over sand dunes, pine forests, and salt marshlands that lead to ocean viewpoints. This trial is recommended for hikers aged eight and older, bicycles and strollers are not allowed. Friendly dogs are allowed on a 6-foot leash.
Park Ranger Supervisor at Bullards Beach Nick Schoeppner said “My favorite part of the hike is that you always see deer, you usually see raccoon tracks, and it’s great for bird watching. There’s just a lot of wildlife out there to see on that trail.”
Sunset Bay State Park, which is located south of Charleston, will begin its hike at 1 p.m. under the Sunset Bay gazebo. The hike will follow the Oregon Coast Trail from Sunset Bay to the botanical gardens at Shore Acres. The hike highlights the coastal forest, as well as panoramic ocean views. It’s a four- mile hike for children aged six and older. Dogs are allowed, but must be on a 6-foot leash. Sunset Bay State Park suggests you bring water, snack, sturdy shoes, rain gear and warm clothes.
“My favorite part of the hike has to be the overlooks. The trail follows along the cliffs, and you get a beautiful view of the ocean,” park specialist at Sunset Bay State Park Janet Sobczak said.
William M. Tugman State Park in Lakeside will start its hike at 10 a.m under the gazebo in the day-use area. The three-mile hike will wind along the edge of Eel Lake. It will highlight several native plants and wildlife.
Park Ranger at William Tugman State park Chris Wiggins said “It’s a really nice trail because it follows the edge of the lake … last year we saw some river otters, and I’m hoping we will again this year.”
Humbug Mountain State Park near Port Orford will meet at the campground flagpole at 10 a.m. and will be hiking the Fern Trail. The Fern Trail is a short section of the Oregon Coast Trail, and is home to a dozen different species of native ferns. The hike will also pass the Brush Creek Overlook, before finishing along the Amphitheater trail. The two mile hike is not recommended for any children under the age of six. Dogs are allowed, but once again must be on a 6-foot leash at most.
Darlingtonia State Natural Area north of Florence will be hiking through its botanical gardens. The hike will be just under a mile and feature detailed information and visuals of the native plant Darlingtonia Californica. Hikers will gather in the park’s parking lot at 1 p.m.
“My favorite part of the hike is the botanical gardens and the unique Darlingtonia Californica. There are hundreds if not thousands of plants to look at,” Darlingtonia State Natural Site park manager Justin Helberg said.