The Agency for Persons with Disabilities said Thursday that it filed for “receivership” of Carlton Palms, a Mt. Dora facility for disabled children and adults.
The facility, run by Bellwether Behavioral Health, has been home to many violent and abusive incidents, committed both by residents and staff. APD had previously stopped the facility from taking in new residents and imposed required video monitoring requirements among other sanctions and fines.
Bellwether told APD it will cease all operations in Florida at the end of the month, and through the receivership process APD will be able to install a new management team to temporarily handle facility operations until residents can be placed in other facilities.
The agency said Thursday’s action was a “major milestone” in their ongoing effort to shutter the facility. Two years ago APD announced that the facility would be shut down in March 2019, but the process was fast-tracked after the death of 26-year-old resident William James Lamson two months ago.
“We continue to work diligently to ensure the safe transition of residents from Carlton Palms while holding Bellwether Behavioral Health accountable. Today’s action is a major milestone in our efforts to shut down the facility that has proven it does not have the best interest of our clients in mind,” said APD Director Barbara Palmer.
“I am very excited to see these residents transition into smaller group homes in their local communities. Keeping our APD customers safe and healthy is the top priority of the agency, and moving them into smaller homelike settings lends itself to a happier and healthier environment.”
APD said that, to date, 58 Carlton Palms residents have been moved into new community group homes. Guardian Healthcare has been contracted to provide daily health and safety oversight for remaining residents until they are placed in new homes.
The agency added that it is working with community providers to develop additional group homes for individuals with intensive behavioral needs, so they can reside in the same communities as their families or guardians.