Orchard Hill adult foster care residents find new care after fire

In less than three days after the Monday evening fire at the Orchard Hill adult foster care home, the last displaced resident checked out of the Manistee County Medical Care Facility (MCMCF) Thursday morning.

“He was supposed to leave about at about 11 a.m. and actually they came early,” said Linda Duchon, director of the facility. “His new adult foster care (AFC) home staff picked him up at about 8:30 a.m.”

Like that, all of the residents had new homes. After a series of several stressful days and many phone calls, Duchon, along with Hospice of Michgan, Adult Protective Services, and the Orchard Hill owners were able to find new housing for their residents.

During the fire, crews initially took all 15 residents to nearby AFC homes. However, it was soon realized that there was not enough room to house them all, and eight were sent to the MCMCF.

“We knew these residents,” Duchon said. “A lot of them, probably five, started out at our facility. Then, due to either the waiver program or their Medicare running out, they moved to less restrictive atmospheres.

“They blended in. First of all, this is the population that we care for, so it wasn’t that they even looked out of place. They were our residents at one time so our staff knew them. The couple that were new were just so grateful to be out of the situation and felt very safe.”

The MCMCF staff and involved parties set up an operations table at the facility and used it over the course of the week in an effort to find long-term housing for the residents. Duchon said Hospice of Michigan “went above and beyond” their responsibilities in finding homes for the residents, while Adult Protective Services was crucial.

One-by-one, they found new homes for the residents. Many were picked up by family members, some were transferred to nearby AFCs, and one was admitted to the MCMCF as a long-term resident.

“In fact, the one lady that is staying here is ecstatic,” Duchon said. “She’s extremely happy and just feels so good to be here. She liked her other place but just felt that it was too many memories.”

While much credit has been given to the situation’s response, Duchon and many in the community also credit the Orchard Hill staff for their thorough fire preparation.

“Each resident said that it is something that they practice,” Duchon said. “That they have fire drills all of the time. They knew to go to the front door. They knew to go to the correct exit. That really aided in their evacuation.”

 

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Posted by Eric Sagonowsky

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