State proposes to revoke licenses of three Howland group homes - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

State proposes to revoke licenses of three Howland group homes

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Three group homes in Trumbull County, designed for more independent adults with disabilities, could lose their licenses after a series of alleged violations of state law and regulations. 

While the state's allegations against the homes remain pending, the elderly residents remain in the homes.

Some people say they are concerned about the estimated three to four residents in each facility. Meanwhile, other people say they are still comfortable with the care being provided.

Families turn to these three group homes that are right next door to each other in Howland to care for elderly loved ones.

Just like the names suggest, Just Like Home I, II and III are licensed by the state to provide housing, meals and personal care for people with disabilities who do not require nursing home care.

Nine months ago the facilities came under fire by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which is proposing to revoke their licenses.

At Just Like Home II, the department cites a resident's family as claiming that a resident broke her hip, injured a knee and developed a blood clot resulting from an alleged push by a staff member in January of last year.

The state says the facility did not seek treatment for her. It was her son who stepped in two days later, and the facility did not investigate or report the alleged abuse to the state.

Another issue is the homes allegedly did not complete background checks or have documentation of training for at least nine employees in February of last year, and the problems were documented again in March and September of 2017.

Last summer, the state alleges a resident of Just Like Home III went without prescribed pain medication for 17 days because the owner, Eugenia Mihas, took the only key to the narcotics cabinet with her out of the country.

"I try to go every couple weeks," explained Theresa Knapik, a long-term care ombudsman with the Area Agency on Aging 11.

Knapik works for the long-term care ombudsman program, which is established by law to advocate on behalf of people who live in these types of facilities.

"The concern is that while we're waiting for due process, what's in place to protect the residents that remain there, their health and safety?" Knapik said.

The homes remain open and are allowed to accept new residents as the revocation process is pending.

21 News questioned the state about what safeguards are in place for the elderly residents living there. 

A spokesperson said under Ohio law, the operator's license remains in effect. However, the licensing agency can pursue an injunction to immediately close a facility, but that has not happened here.

Trumbull County Probate Judge James Fredericka approves housing for people who can't take care of themselves when they have court-appointed guardians. One of those people — called wards — is living in one of the Just Like Home facilities.

The judge sent an investigator to check on him.

"The ward was well kept, fed, the place was clean. We then talked to the guardian and the family again, and they had no concerns, and they were happy with where the ward was, and the ward wants to stay there; it's his home," stated Judge Fredericka.

The judge's plans for the ward will depend on if the licenses are revoked.

Back in 2010, the state did revoke the licenses for Just Like Home I and II, and two years later the state licensed the homes again, which the law allows.

21 News reached out to the owner of the Just Like Home group homes, Eugenia Mihas, for a response and did not hear back.  

Her attorney said she is going to challenge all of the allegations, and her case will be presented during the hearings set to begin April 17. 21 News will be there covering the hearing Tuesday.

21 News also requested an on-camera interview with the state licensing agency's director, who declined citing the pending litigation.

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