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Amid Neglect Allegations, State Lawsuit, Arvada Assisted Living Facility Gets New Ownership

ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) - A controversial assisted living center in Arvada - Almost Like Home - is getting new ownership and upgrades nearly a year and a half after CBS4 Investigates uncovered allegations of neglect and abuse there. The new owner, Assured Assisted Living, says the purchase is "a fresh start."

Almost Like Home was a center for older adults living with memory conditions like dementia and Alzheimer's. In the fall of 2020, CBS4 reported about two women who died following alleged mistreatment there.

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State health department records show Sylvia Torralba's mom, Julia Gutierrez, was neglected at Almost Like Home, saying staff left her in a recliner for up to 24 hours at a time, causing her to develop a severe bedsore that wasn't treated quickly.

"She had no medical issues other than the dementia," Torralba told CBS4 in October 2020. "She could have lived with the dementia for years.

Melisa Goodard's mother died a few months after being severely injured at Almost Like Home in November 2020.

Months after our initial reporting, the state health department issued 31 citations and a maximum fine to the facility.

In August 2021, the state told CBS4 it was suing the facility, with the goal of forcing almost like home to bring in better management, something that Almost Like Home was fighting at the time.

At the time, the state told CBS4 it was concerned for the residents who were still living there. Now, CBS4 has learned that reporting sparked a new company to take over.

"I think it's important to know what's going on in the market, and we were following a lot of your stories," Francis LeGasse, owner of Assured Assisted Living, told CBS4's Kati Weis. "We thought it was good to reach out (to Almost Like Home), and see if we could be a solution."

LeGasse says Assured bought Almost Like Home in September 2021, and immediately cleaned house, firing nearly 40 staff members, including all previous managers. The state health department tells us it approves of the new management agreement.

"We saw an opportunity to bring our brand, the Assured way, to Arvada, and we thought it was really important to offer people living with dementia a great opportunity to thrive as they age," LeGasse said. "It's really important for us to have a fresh start... we thought it was important to bring a fresh name and idea up on this campus, because of some of the past challenges that have been here."

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Assured currently runs 10 other assisted living facilities in Castle Rock, Parker, Littleton, and Centennial. State health department records show those facilities have received only a few minor violations over the years.

"It's really important that we carry out our successes from south and bring them up here, and bring our activities, our engagement, our philosophy on how we empower our residents, train our staff, and bring the community together to really share in the aging experience," LeGasse said. "We use Optimal Home health and hospice, to make sure our residents are getting the therapy we need. We have a dedicated provider from Rocky Mountain Senior Care, which is specialized gerontologist, that are able to be here on site, adapt to any type of challenges or emergencies that arise so that we know not only are the team providing the best hands on care, we're also giving them the best medical care from these from these additional providers."

LeGasse says the new Assured Assisted Living Arvada is getting over $100,000 worth of remodeling upgrades, and residents' families will be kept in better touch with their loved ones through an app that updates them daily about resident activities and health.

"It's a very rewarding job," said new assured caregiver Destinee Arellano. "It feels great. I'm coming to take care of my, I call them my grandmas and grandpas, so it feels nice to come and see them every day."

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The previous owner of Almost Like Home, Tim VanMeter, declined to comment about the purchase.

According to an analysis of state health department and secretary of state business records, VanMeter does not appear to currently operate or own any other assisted living centers in Colorado.

Even though the previous owner has been out since September, Assured Assisted Living is still finalizing the change of ownership with the state health department.

The process could take a few more months, as the facility may need to get inspected to prove that it is indeed changing the place for the better.

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