MESA, Ariz. — A Mesa group home run by the same company connected to a murder investigation in Gilbert lost its license to operate after state investigators found a dozen problems inside.
The issues are part of a state Department of Health investigation into the Tilda Manor group home on Isabella Avenue in Mesa. State inspectors listed out a number of deficiencies observed in the home including outdated employee records and lapses in protective supervision.
According to state records, the state went to survey the facility in August 2021 after receiving a report that residents were left alone for 30 minutes to an hour. The group home is supposed to provide 24/7 supervision to people in need of behavioral and mental health care.
The state found the facility deficient in this rule after talking with residents, one of whom said she contemplated harming herself while the staff wasn’t there.
"You might think, 'Oh, what’s the big deal if no one is there for an hour,'" said Will Humble, former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. "Well in a residential behavioral health group home, a lot could happen in an hour."
The state health department filed an intent to revoke Tilda Manor’s license at this location in October 2021.
When Tilda Manor didn’t request a hearing to dispute, the company lost its license to operate 30 days after the revocation notice was filed. At that point, ADHS said there were no residents living at the Mesa facility.
Humble said it’s not common to see facilities have their licenses revoked. He said typically a statement of deficiencies or revocation notice would be enough for an operator to make changes or relinquish their license.
"If you had one bad operation, you probably had others in other locations," Humble added. "But there’s always exceptions. That's the general rule."
Another Tilda Manor location on Wildhorse Drive in Gilbert is also facing a license revocation but the review is still pending.
That case involves an April 2021 murder investigation where resident Christopher Lambeth is accused of killing another resident.
Lambeth had previously been convicted of killing his grandparents more than a decade ago and was sentenced 25 years to life at the Arizona State Hospital for treatment.
Records show Lambeth went to live at Tilda Manor after the state’s Psychiatric Security Review Board determined he was stable enough to be in the community.
In the group home murder case, investigators found that employees locked themselves out of the home, leaving Lambeth alone inside with other residents.
"This line of work is not easy," Humble explained. "You have to understand that it’s not a walk in the park. You have to understand that it’s something you have to stay on top of all the time if you’re going to continue to meet the needs of your patients and residents."
Holly Gieszl, who is now representing Tilda Manor in the licensure cases, said the company is working with everybody involved to resolve concerns.
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