"I've been his brains, his connection to life, his everything," Edmond said, about Larry, 67, who has Down syndrome and is a resident of Grand Traverse Pavilions.
It was Bea who tied his shoes when he couldn't learn how, Bea who found him a part-time job with
"It has been a big adjustment for both of us," Bea said. "From the day he moved there, I would be in his room, with him, from morning 'til night. Too long, I think, for some of the workers."
She is complementary of the certified nurse's aides who now provide most of Larry's care, less so about Pavilions' supervisors and upper management.
"Oh, they hear from me," she said. "A mother see's it, if something isn't right."
The smiling son she loves has become more withdrawn, Bea said. When Larry lived at home, he could often use a walker. Now he's in a wheelchair.
At home, Bea didn't just set a glass of water on his bedside tray and walk away; she held the straw to his lips and told him he needed to drink it all.
In March, an executive order signed by Gov.
Bea has been able to see Larry once since then. When Pavilions staff rushed her son to Munson's emergency room after he became dehydrated, she said.
"I got to go into the hospital with him, and I've tried to keep a close eye on him since then, but I must tell you, that's been nigh impossible."
A focus on eldercare
The COVID-19 pandemic has put nursing homes like the county-owned Grand Traverse Pavilions under a microscope.
Grand Traverse Pavilions is one of several in northern
Or more to the point, what little they are allowed to see.
"County taxpayers funded that facility with a
La Pointe is the county board's liaison to the Pavilions. He attends board meetings and asks questions, but cannot vote.
"I asked once. The answer was no," La Pointe said.
"They shouldn't have oversight of the Pavilions, that's the way its set up, that's the law," he said in a telephone interview Friday.
"I'm relatively new on the board, and since I've been here I'm trying to make our policies more open and available," he said. "I think we are making progress."
Public vs. private information
A Record-Eagle review of DHHS board minutes available on the Pavilions' website show the board went into closed session four times since
Once to discuss a labor contract, once to discuss an annual employee review and all four times --
The discussions "all include Protected Health Information," DHHS board minutes state, which is a permissible reason for a closed session under the Michigan Open Meetings Act.
Whether identifying information could be removed, so incidents with residents could be discussed in public, wasn't something Tholen was willing to offer an opinion on.
The Open Meetings Act does not require a public body to separate exempt and non-exempt information, he said in an email.
"Discussions don't occur in a vacuum," Kazim said. "Not knowing the identity of a resident would restrict and hinder the ability of Board members to be fully informed in their decision-making process and to prepare for any consequences that may arise as a result of the incident based upon the unique circumstances of the particular incident."
A resident who'd been at the Pavilions to recover from surgery was found in her room unresponsive and later died. (See "Pavilions cited in resident death").
A close-kept hierarchy
The DHHS board is chaired by
The facility is owned by
"I can't figure it out," she said in a recent interview. "It's like they think they have their own little fiefdom and don't have to answer to anyone."
When Gerring began attending DHHS board meetings, she said she was told by Administrative Services Director
Gerring later became so riled over the lack of board transparency, she began paying a freelance videographer to tape them and upload the videos to
On Friday, the board voted unanimously to pay the
"I don't understand it," Gerring said Friday. "What is it that they don't want the public to know?"
Rizzo pointed to legal questions and staff workloads as reasons for the board's initial reluctance to videotape meetings.
Alarming state ratings
Clous, a frequent critic of the county's lack of oversight authority over the Pavilions, once suggested the facility be sold off, for which he received public criticism.
"I got blowback because people are misinformed," Clous said. "The Pavilions is supposed to take care of the indigent, as in, people who don't qualify for Medicaid but have no money to pay. I know of people in that circumstance who have been turned away."
Clous owns Northern Star Assisted Living (previously Traverse Victorian Senior Living) on
The Pavilions' rating isn't great.
The most alarming is a one star rating (out of five) for health inspections and two star overall rating, after staffing (five star), quality measures (4 star) and penalties are taken into consideration.
The incident with the patient found unresponsive and problems with infection control contributed to the below-average rating, documents show.
"They're going to have to improve that rating," Clous said. "What concerns me is, as an elected board member of the county, the county that owns and built the Pavilions with taxpayer money, I have no say over what they do."
Board minutes show the star ratings have been repeatedly discussed, and their accuracy questioned.
Bea and Larry
"I'm realizing after speaking with him that I'm not in a unique situation," Bea said. "I have to admire him for bringing me 'round to that. But my only option now may be to take Larry out of there."
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