Share This Page

Interest shown in reviving shuttered Kiski Township personal care home

| Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, 12:16 a.m.

Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories updating issues from the past year. The stories will appear daily, except on Sunday, through the end of the year.

A shuttered personal care home in Kiski Township has garnered interest from a few entrepreneurs, a local official said.

The Department of Public Welfare closed Wofford's Cherry Lane Manor, a personal care home in Kiski Township, in March. Inspectors say they found life-threatening fire-safety issues, electrical hazards and substandard plumbing.

All 19 residents were immediately removed and relocated.

Since then, two parties separately have shown interest in reviving the operation, Kiski Township zoning administrator Sam Ross said.

“A few people have looked at it and wanted to see what it would take to get it up and running again,” Ross said, declining to estimate costs.

“They'd have to get an architectural drawing of the whole building — the structure, wiring, plumbing, bedroom, kitchen areas,” Ross said. “And they'd have to update all that, especially the electrical and plumbing.”

In shuttering the facility, Ross said too many electrical extension cords and other wiring hazards, as well as plumbing problems, caused the township to declare the residents were at risk.

“We never did get into living quarters,” Ross said. “In the basement, there was enough there to close them down.”

Matthew Jones, acting director of human services licensing for the Department of Public Welfare, said it's not only direct-care issues that can land a center in hot water, but also code issues with the facility itself.

“All the regulatory requirements are intended to meet health and safety standards,” Jones said. “We take them all seriously. Sometimes, folks try but aren't able to meet requirements, and that means people are not getting safe and good care. That jeopardizes the license.”

Among the issues at Wofford's Cherry Lane were unlocked poisonous materials, smoking in the home, failure to follow prescriber orders, electrical and plumbing problems, lack of documentation for handling resident funds, having only one exit up to grade for residents with mobility needs, unsanitary conditions and resident-right issues, said Kait Gillis, deputy director of communications for the Department of Public Welfare.

Although local officials have been contacted, there has been no communication with state regulators. Gillis said they have received no calls of interest from anyone seeking to resurrect the business. “Since it closed last spring, we've had no applications from anyone looking to reopen it,” Gillis said.

Jones said a personal care home could get a license at the building again, as long as all the issues are resolved.

“There is nothing that prejudices the physical site,” Jones said.

He said it takes about two months from receipt of the application to the issuance of a license if all requirements are met.

Ross said the building is an old schoolhouse and is structurally sound.

“They'd just be updating a lot of items there and making adjustments,” Ross said.

Ross said the structure is a nonconforming building, meaning its use was established before zoning. While its status is a personal care home, after a year of vacancy, the site loses its nonconforming use.

If new management waited until after March to re-open, the owner would have to get a variance to proceed, which could prolong the process, Ross said.

Ross said he believes there's a market for a personal care home in the area.

“Most definitely,” he said. “As a township, we're more than willing to work with anyone interested and willing to reopen it. Our main concern is the safety of the residents and their well-being.”

Maria Guzzo is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.