February 25, 2018 - 6:00 am
A Henderson woman with no professional medical experience is transferring mentally ill people from local hospitals to unlicensed group homes — and a bipolar woman died after she was put in a Las Vegas home with no supervision.
The hospitals not only give Eileen Lee, 60, who runs a “consultancy” business, access to their mentally ill, elderly and homeless patients, but they also call Lee to find them a home.
One of those patients was Rayshauna Roy. Medical records show that the 33-year-old was admitted to North Vista Hospital on Feb. 5 on a Legal 2000 hold, which is issued when someone is considered a danger to themselves or others. She suffered from drug addiction, depression, bipolar disorder and “suicide ideation,” the paperwork said.
Roy was released to Lee three days later.
Lee was called to take Roy to an “independent living” home — which Lee said she chose because it was cheap — on Westminster Avenue. Less than 24 hours later, Roy was found dead, facedown in front of a tiny refrigerator in her room. Her cause of death has not been released by the coroner’s office.
“She was too sick to be living independently,” her father, Tony Wright, said Wednesday after viewing his daughter’s body at a mortuary. “She would be alive right now if she was put in the right situation. She wanted help, and obviously they let her down. They put her in a situation that ultimately caused her death. They can never repay me for what we lost. Never.”
North Vista Hospital spokeswoman Sandy Muniz declined comment on Roy’s situation, citing patient privacy laws.
She said the hospital “follows all appropriate discharge protocols, taking into account age, medical condition and the wishes of our adult patients, among other factors.”
“Our hearts go out to all family members enduring the loss of a loved one,” Muniz added.
Lee, who owns Above & Beyond Consultancy, said she placed Roy in the Westminster home because Roy had only $250 for rent. Lee said she didn’t know Roy was suicidal even though it was disclosed in her discharge papers. The house had no caretakers or supervision.
“My intention was just to help her,” Lee said. “Instead of bringing her to the shelter, the hospital called me and asked if I can find a room for rent for her. She said she didn’t want to go to the shelter. I didn’t read her file because I saw her. I talked to her. She was bubbly and happy and excited.”
Lee has no verifiable health care experience. Her business license expired two years ago, according to the secretary of state’s office. Lee operates two licensed group homes of her own but denied a request to visit them.
State Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, a member of the legislative audit subcommittee that assessed the group homes, said he is alarmed by the situation.
“If this individual is acting in a way that jeopardizes the health and safety of the public, that could verge on criminal activity,” Kieckhefer said. “This person is clearly unqualified and likely jeopardizing the health and safety of these individuals. It’s something we need to get our arms around immediately.”
Nevada has come under fire in recent years for “dumping” mentally ill patients in California and paying home providers to house them in filthy conditions. Officials at overcrowded hospitals are often eager to release patients and free up beds. But Roy’s death raises new questions about why North Vista would release her to a stranger — especially when Roy’s family lived in Las Vegas.
“Why didn’t they try to call her family?” said Netshield Roy, 55, Rayshauna’s mother. “Why did they take Eileen’s word? We need answers.”
A social worker at a Las Vegas hospital — who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of job loss — said hospitals use Lee and other brokers as a last resort.
“Many of them have no homes or incomes,” the worker said. “That’s when I would call Eileen and ask her for help.”
Roy’s body was discovered by Jersharo Amey and Treva Lee, who live at the Westminster home. It’s not the first time the couple dealt with one of Eileen Lee’s clients.
Amey and Lee worked at an unlicensed home for people with mental illness at 1331 Laguna Ave. Similar to group homes detailed in a recent state audit, the Laguna house was in squalid condition, the couple said, and patients endured bedbugs, stale or expired food and, in some cases, physical or financial abuse.
“I saw them grab a mentally ill woman and push her, telling her to go to her room,” Amey said. “They kept one fridge for themselves — and it was locked up. The other was for the clients and was filled with expired food.”
The home is run by Emanuel and Remy Rubianes, who denied physically assaulting patients or feeding them expired food. Remy Rubianes said her home on Laguna Avenue is “independent living” — meaning she needs no state license — although patients say she administers their medication, which requires state certification.
Linda Theubet, a recovering alcoholic who has had depression and anxiety attacks, lived in that home for nearly four months.
She was placed there by Eileen Lee, who took half the first month’s rent as “commission,” according to other residents. Lee said she takes only 25 percent.
“Eileen came to the hospital and told me, ‘I can help you find a place.’ I didn’t know her,” said Theubet, 67. “The social worker kept pressuring me to go with her. I didn’t know where Eileen would take me. I told the social worker I have a bad feeling about this, and she said it would be fine.”
The worker, Theubet said, works at Horizon Health and Rehab Center. Calls to the center were not returned.
Amey and Lee, who found Rayshauna Roy dead, helped Theubet escape from the Laguna home. But the home remains in operation.
James Madison, a Lee client who says he has struggled with schizophrenia and has brain damage, still lives there. The Las Vegas Review-Journal could not confirm his self-diagnosis.
Madison, who is severely disabled, said the home providers take his entire Social Security check each month.
“She cashes them in,” Madison said, sitting on the edge of his bed in a tiny room created with dividers as makeshift walls. “I haven’t seen my checks. I’m broke right now.”
Remy Rubianes admitted to taking Madison’s ATM card. He asked for it back multiple times during an interview Monday, but Rubianes said his niece asked her to control his money.
“If we give him all his money, he’ll spend it,” said Rubianes, who charges tenants $900 for rent and food. A refrigerator in the home contained mostly Spam and beans. “So we give it to him little by little. We give him some money for cigarettes and soda.”
Her husband, Emanuel, lives at a second group home the family runs on Monterey Avenue. It’s not licensed by the state health department.
Running a group home in Nevada — whether for “independent living” or for people with severe mental illness — is a profitable business.
Rose Marie Caymo runs five such homes in Southern Nevada. Caymo said she collects rent ranging from $600 to $1,000 per person, per month — earning about $2,000 to $3,000 a month per home. Some residents use food stamps to supplement the rent, Caymo said.
Unlike Rubianes, she doesn’t need Eileen Lee to find patients — she goes to the hospital and gets them herself.
“When we moved here, I went to all the hospitals, rehabs, and I introduced myself,” Caymo said. “Now the social workers for the hospitals call me for assessments. I decide right there just by looking at their meds if they are qualified for independent living.”
Like Lee, Caymo has no professional medical experience. Caymo also “referred” patients to Rubianes, who runs the Laguna Avenue home. Caymo said she was inspired to open the group homes when her neighbor Emper Ebiya told her to get into the business.
Ebiya ran an unlicensed group home on North Ninth Street that housed seven men in filth — until the state shut it down for a second time this month.
“She told me, ‘Why don’t you open one?’ I said ‘No, I don’t have any knowledge of this business,’” Caymo said. “She said all you have to do is go to the hospitals and introduce yourself.”
Tony Wright, Rayshauna Roy’s father, likened it to patient trafficking.
“It seems she goes to the hospital, recruits people who are gullible and trustworthy, puts them in facilities and there’s a monetary gain for her,” Wright said. “Who is this Eileen lady? Why did she take it upon herself to come into our family’s life and make a decision that has now cost us our daughter? We’ll never recover from this.”