Kentucky

New Hope Agency closes

New Hope Agency of Burgin, a troubled private center for the care of mentally disabled people, closed Friday after relocating its residents to other places around the state.

“Right now, New Hope Agency is no longer doing business, and it remains unclear when, if ever, it will resume operations,” said Lexington lawyer Bruce Simpson. He is the attorney for David Orwick, a minority owner in New Hope who sued the agency and its executive director, Terry Wallingford, this month.

Vikki Franklin, a spokeswoman for the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, confirmed that there were no longer any residents in the facility.

The Bluegrass Regional Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board, based in Lexington, had assumed interim control of New Hope on July 3 to assess whether the Mercer County facility could continue to operate.

Bluegrass concluded that New Hope “was in such bad shape, with not nearly sufficient staff to take care of all the people, that it was beyond their capacity to continue with the management of the facility,” Simpson said.

Bluegrass “determined that the kind of assistance that New Hope needed to care for the number of residents that they had was more than they could direct their full-time staff to take on,” Simpson said. “There was no other professional team that was experienced to take care of New Hope on a long-term basis.”

“Based on that, they informed the state … that there needed to be alternative locations for the residents, and they were removed,” Simpson said. “They went all over the state.”

When Bluegrass took over on July 3, New Hope had 17 residents and 22 employees.

Simpson said Orwick agreed with relocation of the residents.

In a related matter, personnel with the state attorney general's office executed a search warrant Friday and seized property from New Hope's Burgin offices, said Assistant Deputy Attorney General Tad Thomas.

“Our Medicaid fraud unit is investigating along with our Department of Criminal Investigations,” Thomas said. He confirmed that computers and documents were removed from the New Hope offices.

New Hope had offered a variety of services to people with mental and developmental disabilities, including adult foster care, psychological serv­ices, and speech, physical and occupational therapy.

Wallingford, 45, remains in the Boyle County jail and is accused of five counts of sexual abuse and rape of four former New Hope employees.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Harrodsburg to determine whether there is probable cause to send the matter to a Mercer County grand jury for possible indictment.

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