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my viewBlaine’s travels

A young lady came to our lobby to get past issues of Sonoran News. When she had all the issues she was looking for she asked “How is Blaine?” I asked her if she knew him, she said, “No but I feel I know him from reading Sonoran News.” My kind of lady!

We have written often about Blaine Keith. He came to Carefree in 1990 to die. A California doctor told him the metal heart valve he installed would last anywhere from three to six years. Blaine decided he would move to Carefree, build a nice house for his wife Martha and check out. Now twenty-five years later the valve still functions, although when it “sticks” sublingual nitroglycerin kick starts it.

Sadly, Martha died in 2012, Blaine sold his house and moved into Westchester Senior Living in Tempe.

Blaine has been a Mason for over 50 years and fellow Masons prevailed upon him to move to Westchester Senior Living. After continuing medical treatment at Mayo, he moved to Acacia and then to Lovin Manor off Dixileta and 76th Street.

He still felt like a fish out water and wanted to get back to Carefree. Blaine is active in Kiwanis, attends church and bible study, Carefree Town Council and lectures to CCUSD students. He also acted as the gateway to men wanting to join the Masons.

His stay at Lovin Manor was temporary. He had been promised a home at the house being renovated to become the Dream Street Residence in Carefree. Progress was slow and Carefree’s town administration was urging a finish because Blaine’s short-term contract was soon to end.

The investor whose money built the Dream Street Residence (DSR) is Dr. Jarvis Tzeng. I called him and told him about the slow progress and Blaine’s time dilemma. I suggested he hire a qualified manager for the facility and accelerate the facility opening. Meanwhile, Blaine was able to extend his temporary contract for another month.

When he finally got to DSR he was disappointed by the lack of care and especially that the Manager Cheryle Garcia was seldom there because she was also doing home nursing care. Blaine and Garcia had been friends to the point that he called her his daughter as he calls me his son.

Over Christmas, Blaine had a verbal altercation with Tzeng. Let me say here, Blaine is all Marine and he told Tzeng if he were 50 years younger he would knock him through a wall.

Blaine learned to fly when he was 10 and at age 17 he was flying with legendary Joe Foss in Guadalcanal. He continued flying fighters for the rest of WWII. He remained in the Marine reserves and was recalled from Engineering War College into the Korean War, flew 100 missions, was awarded the Purple Heart and other medals. He became a test pilot and then joined NASA where he was chairman of the Tiger Team. He ended his career as the Regional Manager of Goodyear’s seven Western Divisions.

Later, I found a reason for all the stalling with DSR. On May 12, 2014 the Board of Examiners of Nursing Care Institution Administrators and Assisted Living Facilities Managers (NCIA), a state organization, met.

Item 13 on the agenda: Petruce-Garcia, Cheryl, Permanent Manager Certification. Licensing Coordinator Wilkenson outlined for the board the criminal issue related to the applicant.

Applicant Cheryl Petruce-Garcia was present and answered the Board’s questions. Ms. Petruce-Garcia said she was under some personal stress when she took items from a store. Ms. Petruce-Garcia said she had the money to pay for the items but didn’t. Ms. Petruce-Garcia recently completed the terms ordered by the court.

Member Hasseltine made a motion that was seconded by member McAllister to deny the permanent manager certificate based on ARS 36-446.07(B)(1); Conviction of a felony or conviction of any misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, and notify the Board of Nursing of the conviction, because Ms. Petruce-Garcia had not notified them of the arrest or conviction.

On July 14, 2014 NCIA held another meeting and Ms. Petruce-Garcia presented Tzeng, her employer, as a witness.

The Board approved Ms. Petruce-Garcia for a two-year probationary certificate.

She was required to have ongoing counseling no less than quarterly, with results forwarded to the NCIA executive director. She may only be manager of one facility and must report any change of employment. All cost concerning the probation must be borne by her.

On March 9, 2015 Garcia handed Blaine a “Notice to terminate agreement.” For the reason, she checked: “resident’s physical, functional or emotional needs exceed the capabilities of this facility.”

That may be true, only because the staffing was awful. Garcia hired women from Africa who couldn’t speak English as well as a few other strike outs.

Garcia is supposed to advise NCIA if she changes her job. She quit after hiring her replacement, who immediately quit.

For a long period of time Blaine paid $411 dollars every month for her Sonoran News ad, unaware that amount of money was paying for both hers and her husband’s ads.

When all this happened, we immediately canceled the DSR ad. No person expecting adequate care will find it at DSR.

Blaine is a national hero who was treated like dirt. Stress is not his friend at 90 years old and in the last days at DSR he was literally kicked out with nowhere to go. Had it not been for a church friend who found the Grace Hill Ranch at 37509 N. 16th Street in Phoenix he would be homeless.

His dream of coming back to Carefree is shattered, at least for now, but he is a Marine and will persevere.