Originally created 09/21/00

Care home owners appeal facility's close



AIKEN - The owners of an elderly care home, whose license was revoked and whose business was locked down, have appealed the state's decision.

Mark Huff, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control, said the family who owned the Aiken operation filed the papers Tuesday. Their case could be heard in Columbia as early as next month.

Clifford Ranson, Alice J. Ranson and Jared Ranson - all of Brookhaven Drive - were arrested a week ago and charged with two counts each of elderly neglect. The facility's operators also have been fined $10,000. They are out on bond.

Aiken County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Michael Frank said Wednesday that more charges could be made once the department finishes its case. Investigators are questioning at least a half-dozen people who called the agency after the Ransons were arrested to report additional allegations of abuse.

According to the order shutting down the Ransons' business, the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation said an unlicensed facility that illegally housed residents "contained excessive amounts of fecal matter on the walls, floors and beds, ceilings were partially collapsed and water infiltrated due to a permeable roof."

Officials said the family operated two unlicensed residential care homes, plus a licensed one, Ranson Community Care Facility. The worse of the two unlicensed buildings was a small cabin located in the woods behind the main facility, according to the order revoking the license.

Mr. Huff would not confirm published reports that state health officials knew as long ago as June 1996 that conditions in the Ranson facility suggested that elderly residents were being neglected. The Associated Press reported that two patients with behavior problems were locked up and the driveway to the house was always blocked. People also complained that the staff rarely checked on residents.

The DHEC spokesman would not comment on the case because the Ransons have filed an appeal. Their complaint will be heard by board members at DHEC headquarters. If that group decides to uphold the state's decision, the Ransons could take their case to an administrative law judge, Mr. Huff said.

Reach Chasiti Kirkland at (803) 279-6895.