Problem Solver: Woman leaves assisted living center; refund sought

Longtime friend seeks more than $5,100 from facility to apply toward new arrangements

Margaret Kinloch has no family. The 87-year-old's husband passed away years ago. So did her son and her two brothers.

To fill the void, her friend and neighbor, Joanne Felski, obtained power of attorney for Kinloch's financial and medical affairs.

"I've known the lady for 47 years," Felski said. "I just feel for her because she has nobody, just absolutely nobody, to fight for her."

After a fall in November, Kinloch was briefly hospitalized, then spent more than three months in a rehabilitation facility. Doctors told Kinloch she could not return to her Chicago Ridge home, so she was moved to Moraine Court Supportive Living in Bridgeview.

She spent six weeks at Moraine Court before checking into a hospital with an infection in her heel. Unable to figure out what was causing the infection, doctors put Kinloch on a four-week regimen of antibiotics, delivered through an intravenous tube.

Under Moraine Court's rules, residents can't stay at the facility if they are on an IV, unless they have a hospice worker to take care of them, Felski said.

So on April 12, Felski moved her friend into a more comprehensive care facility, in Oak Lawn. Felski said she informed Moraine Court that day that Kinloch would not be returning, and three days later moved Kinloch's belongings out of the facility.

At the time, Kinloch had already paid Moraine Court $4,150 for the month of April. She had also paid a move-in fee of $2,500.

Felski said she asked Moraine Court to refund the move-in fee and a portion of the April rent, which she calculated to be $5,162 combined. She reasoned that Kinloch had only spent six weeks in the facility, so the move-in fee was unfair.

And although Kinloch's contract with Moraine Court stated she needed to provide a 30-day notice before leaving, a clause on Page 8 of the document said that requirement would be waived "where a delay would jeopardize the health, safety, and well-being of the resident or others."

Felski argued that since Kinloch needed the intravenous antibiotics, and Moraine Court would not allow her to stay with an IV, she should have been allowed to terminate her contract without notice.

Under those circumstances, Kinloch should get back the remainder of her April rent, Felski said.

Moraine Court disagreed. Repeatedly, employees at the facility told Felski they would not return any of Kinloch's money, Felski said.

Upset, she told the facility's administrator, Ari Haas, she would go to the media if he did not agree to return the money.

"He gave me the thumbs-up, like 'Go for it,'" Felski said.

So she wrote to What's Your Problem?

She said the money is important because Kinloch's care at the Oak Lawn facility is expensive. She paid $13,998.15 for care through July 1, and will pay $7,316 per month after that, Felski said.

"Every little dime would help her," she said. "It's her money. I just didn't understand why they refuse to give it back."

Felski said that at some point soon, her friend's money will run out.

"I just don't think it's fair," she said of Moraine Court's decision. "I think (they're) taking advantage of an elderly lady."

The Problem Solver called Haas, who said he was aware of Felski's request and had spoken to Felski. He said he could not talk about the situation because of privacy concerns.

"I'm not trying to stonewall you," he said. "I have bosses, I have regulations I have to follow."

Haas said he would be willing to speak with Felski again about the situation, and said all she had to do was contact him.

The Problem Solver relayed that message to Felski, who then left several messages for Haas on Monday and Tuesday, she said.

Haas did not call back, Felski said.

"I just think it's awful to do something like that to someone who is 87 years old," she said. "I think it's terrible."

The Problem Solver will provide updates as warranted.

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