10 January

The Hidden Victims Of The Mansion Evacuation: Families, Staff

by Jon Katz

I think everyone understands – except the state bureaucrats, it seems – how much the Mansion residents who were evacuated last week are suffering as they wait in fear and confusion – to come home.

But we don’t see many of the hidden victims. Every day, I see the toll this ordeal is taking on the management and staff of the Mansion.  And on the families caring for them at home.

The aides ache for their residents, they worry about them, and they love them. Their lives revolve around loving them and caring for them, and it is a great anguish and turmoil for them to be separated from them in this way, to know they need help but to not be able to help them.

The families are exhausted and overwhelmed taking care of them. It is not simple work, not for anyone.

Every day, it seems, the state sets out to investigate something else, and shuts down the repair work until their studies are done. Local fire and police officials have cleared the Mansion and said  it’s fine for the residents to return, the state keeps showing up with more demands and more investigations. Meanwhile, all work has to stop while they find nothing or make additional requests. It’s almost as if they just can’t let go.

I’ve seen more than one aide crying, they are all worried sick and anxious. Their normal jobs are hard enough, this is a kind of Hell. If the state inspectors are aware of this, they don’t let on. They seem to live in their own bubbles.

This is not only hard on the Mansion staff but on the families, those who have taken their mothers or sisters or brothers in with them while the state continues to investigate and peek under floorboards. I get e-mails every day from the families, their own lives and schedules have been upended as they tend to their own disoriented and very needy residents.

Many of the people reading this understand the special burdens of home caretakers.

Middle school kids are handling eight-hour shifts taking care of grandma.

Kids and adults do double duty watching the residents, who can not be left alone, must be given regular medications, special food and help dressing and undressing, clean laundry, and often some assistance going to the bathroom, and then getting clean.

The Mansion staff does this almost every day, cheerfully and almost effortlessly (or so it seems.) For hard pressed working families, the burden is intense and very difficult. The Mansion aides work with a kind of joyous dedication. I have to pinch myself sometimes to remember that they are working.

Many of the residents came to the Mansion in the first place to relieve their families of the great burden of caring for them. This is a wrenching and draining experience for everyone involved.

Anyone who spends anytime there knows that the residents are loved and exceptionally well cared for. No Medicaid institution can endure this bureaucratic nightmare for two long, I can only hope and pray it is resolved quickly.

I can see the emotion and exhaustion in Kassi, the Mansion’s new and young director. When I asked her how she was holding up, she said, “don’t ask about me, I’m fine. We have to get the residents back  here so we can take care of them.”

Kassi is right, of course. We all hope it will be soon. I’m going over to see the evacuated residents this afternoon, with some books.


  1. Sadly, this is just an “industry” to the State, rather than people. The Mansion got it right; they found loving and caring people to work there, who only want to get back to the work they love. “Why? ” is never the right question, about things like this. Only what can I do to help? And that is precisely what you, Maria, and the Mansion employees are doing. What a wonderful collaboration to see.

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