The Betrayal of Elaine Benz.

AuthorLueders, Bill

On April 21, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) rescinded the citations it had issued to a senior health care facility for having violated state law in evicting my mother, Elaine Benz, last fall.

No reason was given for the state's reversal. My sister, Diane, and I, who have power of attorney for our mom's health care, were never consulted about DHS's decision to dismiss the citations. Nor were we able to challenge what we believe to be false representations made by the facility, ProHealth Care Regency Senior Communities New Berlin, regarding Elaine's level of requisite care.

As I have described in The Progressive ("I Want to Go Home," February/March issue and "My Mother's Eviction: An Update," April/May issue) and elsewhere, my family was deeply affected by this eviction. Elaine, who was ninety-seven then and is ninety-eight now, was forced to spend nineteen days in punishing isolation at a physical rehabilitation center, then in full COVID-19 lockdown, after being prevented from returning home to the Regency where she had lived for ten years. We had to scramble to find her a new place to live. She was traumatized by the experience.

On November 8, 2021, in response to my complaint, the Division of Quality Assurance, part of DHS, conducted an investigation. It found that the Regency had committed two violations of state administrative code regarding our mother's eviction. The facility was fined a total of $1,500, far less than the actual costs incurred by our family due to those events.

The Regency appealed, asking for a hearing before an administrative law judge. Instead of defending the findings of its frontline staff, DHS agreed to dismiss the citations--without even holding the hearing. The Stipulated Settlement Agreement states: "Based on additional information provided with the appeal, before the case conference, during the case conference, and after the case conference, the Department [of Health Services] agrees to rescind" both citations.

What additional information? Who knows?

The DHS, at my request, released what it said was its entire file on the matter, including a stack of medical records stamped as exhibits. But, as the department confirmed to me, it had no documents that stated a defense of the Regency's actions or that even attempted to explain the significance of the provided records.

No reason at all was reason enough for the department.

In an April 27 letter to DHS...

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