‘It’s unexpected:’ As Wellspring nursing home closed, police called after ’employees made threats’

MILWAUKEE -- Police were called to Wellspring nursing home near 91st and Fond du Lac Thursday, Feb. 28 after police said employees "made threats via Facebook." The nursing home is already shutting its doors because of what executives called, "catastrophic unforeseeable business circumstances."

According to police, the employees threatened to cause damage to property at the business if they were not paid.

Police said no one at the business knew which employees made the threats. The investigation was ongoing.

Nicke Rosbeck

On Thursday, patients and their families were moved out of the nursing and rehabilitation center but management officials would not tell FOX 6 why.

"It's unexpected. It's a mass amount of people exiting at one time," said Nicke Rosbeck, with Edenbrook Lakeside.

"It's like somebody coming to tell you, 'You got to leave your house in 30 minutes,'" said Pamela Jones, who is a former employee.

Paperwork filed with the state showed the facility would close April 12, but patients' families said they were told on Tuesday that they had to be out by Thursday. FOX6 News learned employees quit over the abrupt closure and some said they weren't sure why it was so rushed.

Jones, who was employed at Wellspring for one year, walked out Thursday with a letter that said she was "a former employee."

"I have a family with mouths to feed just like everybody else. The administration staff didn't care, not only about the residents, but they didn't care about us either," said Jones. "I don't know why the police is here, but they probably should be because all of us is angry."

Donte White

While executives never returned our calls, one nurse, Donte White, was helping patients outside and moving their belongings.

"It was a state of emergency in our building. We had issues with staffing and supplies," said White.

White was one of the few employees left, according to people who work there.

"There are a couple more residents in here and I wanted to make sure everyone got off safely," said White.

Everyone would be transported to other facilities, according to paperwork filed with the state.

"It's gonna be chaos everywhere," said Rosbeck.

"Some of them didn't even know where they was going, so yeah, it's very frustrating for everybody involved," said Jones.

Jeff Sweetland showed up to Wellspring on Wednesday to see his brother, Phil, who stays there.

Jeff Sweetland

"These folks really brought our brother back to us," said Jeff Sweetland.

Sweetland said he too, found out about the closure on Tuesday. But said it didn't bother him because he's been happy with the level of care his brother has received.

On Feb. 11, Wellspring's executive director filed a letter with the Department of Health services detailing the closure, which including laying off all 160 employees.

"These people are here for assistance. They're in need of a skilled medical care facility and just overnight, you're closing," said Renee, power of attorney for a Wellspring patient.

Renee headed in Wednesday to help her patient decide where to go, and quickly.

"Quality and outcome of care -- that is my biggest concern here," said Renee.

Several people, including patients' families and former employees, expressed concern to FOX6 whether patients received their food and medications in a timely manner because of the unexpected closure.

Court records showed several financial cases against the parent company for hundreds of thousands of dollars. FOX6 reached out to that company, based on the East Coast, and did not hear back.

"It sounds like it came with very short notice," said David Poll, whose dad stays at the center.

Paperwork filed with the state showed Wellspring would close by April 12, or when the last patient was out. According to the law, it could not close prior to that date if residents were still living there. A spokeswoman with the Department of Health Services said Wellspring has an approved relocation plan, but could not provide it as this time.

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