CONWAY — Even as the COVID-19 outbreak at the Green Mountain Treatment Center has grown to over 100 people, a person who lives near the North Conway accommodations where residents of the Effingham drug rehabfacility are staying isn’t a hotel as the owner claimed.
Dr. Benjamin Chan, a State Epidemiologist, said that 13 coronavirus-related infections were reported in residents on December 3, and 14 in staff at the center on December 3.
Dec. 22: The number of infections reported to the center had risen from 67 residents to 36 staffers to 103.
Eric Spofford, CEO of Granite Recovery Centers, which includes Green Mountain, has described Forest Glen Inn on Artist Falls Road in North Conway as a hotel that he owns, though it’s not part of Granite Recovery and is under a different LLC.
According to a staffer at the center, COVID-positive clients of Green Mountain have been put up at Forest Glen.
On December 22, Artist Falls resident Tom Holmes received an email from him complaining about the town. “I read with great interest Daymond Steer’s article in the Sun last week regarding the Forest Glen Inn on Artist Falls Road,” the letter said.
“What has been going on there is a concern of mine and my neighbors for over a year now. I did some poking around about a year ago and clearly, they’re not operating as a hotel.”
The person noted that the hotel’s website has been under construction for a year and that the phone number is always busy. She said website reviews only occur on holidays and conjectured that perhaps they let a few guests stay there occasionally to keep up the “facade.”
“Also, their vans, about 4-5 of them at a time, drive so fast down our otherwise quiet street. Also, neighbors closer to the facility report increased traffic on Sundays (visiting days) as well as middle of the night clearing of the building to check for suspected contraband which is very noisy and disruptive. Everyone on Artist Falls Road knows this is NOT a hotel unless there is some loophole they are operating under.”
Asked about the neighbor’s complaint, Holmes said: “The town is already looking into it. We initiated an investigation as soon as we were told of an upcoming story on NHPR (which has since been published) regarding the number of (COVID) positives at the company’s rehab facilities around the state and that they were being sent to the Forest Glen Inn for quarantine.
“We have contacted state agencies for guidance and are awaiting their answers,” he said.
Holmes stated in an email that Spofford had given assurances to the town that the Forest Glen would be managed as a hotel.
The Sun asked Josh McElveen, Granite Recovery’s spokesperson, about the latest complaint. He said he would bring the Sun’s question to Spofford’s attention but also cautioned that Spofford was “talking to lawyers” about the Sun’s previous story.
Artist Falls resident, another, contacted the town in February about a “loud commotion”It took place outside the building. She stated that the building was being used as a sober living space and not as a hotel.
Spofford wrote Conway Building Inspector David Pandora around that time insisting that Forest Glen was being utilized as a hotel. Spofford did confirm that Green Mountain provides transportation between Forest Glen and the Effingham treatment centre.
“FGI is a hotel and people who are in recovery do stay there,”Spofford. “I can see how that has caused some confusion/concern. The guests of FGI will not be a problem. The hotel staff will make sure that it is a smoothly well-run hotel and will handle any problems that arise with its guests (although we don’t expect many problems).”
Anne Edwards, Associate New Hampshire Attorney General told the Sun that a spouse of a Green Mountain client filed a complaint against the Attorney General’s Office claiming that guests at the inn were not wearing masks or social disruption.
Edwards said that the AG’s office advised the inn in November or December that people living in common areas, who can’t stand 6 feet apart, needed to wear masks. She stated that it sounded like the breakfast buffet was not being held in accordance to Emergency Order 74, which is a governor’s mask rule.
Buffets should be served by mask-wearing staff
“They said they would implement those changes,”Edwards stated that the AG’s Office has not received any additional complaints.
Edwards said that the AG’s Office also spoke to the treatment centre and asked why they were moving clients from the inn.
“What we were told at that time was that … these are people who are coming near the end of their treatment, that they were concerned about the outbreak that they had at the treatment facility and they were moving those people out of the treatment facility to the inn temporarily before they were discharged in order to help manage the outbreak,”Edwards.