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Assisted living

The state has moved to revoke the license of Faith Gardens, a Sun Prairie assisted living facility.

The state has moved to revoke the license of a Sun Prairie assisted-living facility where a resident was found dead outside in December, citing problems in caring for several residents.

Faith Gardens, where 84-year-old Alice McGaw died Dec. 29, is appealing the revocation, said attorney Robert Lightfoot, who represents the facility.

The state Department of Health Services, which sanctioned Faith Gardens 16 times after four inspections in October, January, February and March, conducted another inspection in May.

The May inspection resulted in five more citations and a July 2 notice revoking the facility’s license, ordering it to stop taking new residents and issuing a $7,650 fine.

Faith Gardens “failed to ensure the residents received proper care and treatment and that their health and safety were protected and promoted,” according to the state inspection report from May. “As a result, multiple residents experienced negative outcomes and/or death.”

In September 2017, a resident with dementia and lung disease was hospitalized for tremors, weakness, dehydration and decreased appetite, changes that had started a week earlier, the report said.

Faith Gardens failed to properly notify the resident’s doctor and legal representative of the decline in the resident’s condition, the report said. Also, the facility couldn’t confirm whether it had given the patient an inhaler as ordered.

Eleven days after being hospitalized, the patient died.

In August 2017, another resident who was confused and lethargic was found to have three fentanyl patches on his or her back, the report said. A patch of the opioid pain reliever, which can cause overdose and death, is supposed to be removed before another is applied.

The facility failed to ensure that a third resident received prescribed seizure medication on 208 days between September 2017 and this May, the report said.

After a seizure required the resident to be hospitalized this June, a blood test of the resident could not detect any of the medication.

The May inspection report also refers to McGaw’s case. Inspectors previously said Faith Gardens failed to use a front-door alarm, left an inside door propped open and didn’t check often enough on McGaw, who had frequently tried to leave the facility.

She was found dead outside on the morning of Dec. 29, when the temperature was below 10 degrees. Hypothermia was a likely contributor, officials said.

Matthew Boller, an attorney who filed a lawsuit against Faith Gardens in April on behalf of McGaw’s four children, said he is also representing the daughter of the resident who died in September 2017 after being hospitalized for tremors and weakness. No suit has been filed in that case.

The daughter filed a complaint with the state in April, leading to the inspection in May, Boller said. A doctor who didn’t care for that resident also filed a complaint against Faith Gardens, apparently regarding another resident.

Boller said his clients “have grave concerns about their loved ones dying in vain” and “want to make sure other families don’t have to go through what they went through.”

Lightfoot said Faith Garden’s appeal of the revocation and other actions is in the “preliminary stages. … We’re trying to resolve issues with (the health department).”

Among Wisconsin’s 4,000-plus assisted-living facilities, the state moved to revoke the licenses of 15 last year, according to state health department spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsitt.

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David Wahlberg is the health and medicine reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.