The lights at Heartlands Retirement Center in Ellicott City are going out -- literally.
Since May, the 164-unit senior complex has suffered a series of power outages, cutting electricity to air conditioners, elevators and lights, and leaving tenants to depend on flashlights for as long as 16 hours.
The irony is that Heartlands is owned by Constellation Health Services Inc., a subsidiary of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.
Most residents contacted declined to comment, but at least one tenant confirmed the outages.
The resident said the latest outage occurred Aug. 11 and lasted more than 12 hours.
"They told us to go to the dining hall downstairs, but it was so dark that we had to use flashlights to get down the stairs," said the tenant, who asked not to be identified. "It's been a real nice place. We've just had a few power outages that upset us a little."
But Cheryl Bluestein, a gerontologist for Aging Service Network who has several clients living at Heartlands, was more concerned.
"It's inexcusable," she said. "It's terrible that it's owned by BGE, and they can't keep the power on."
Officials from Constellation, which bought Heartlands in June 1996, were not available for comment.
Bluestein also said sudden temperature changes caused by the lack of air conditioning affect the residents.
"It's negligence when you're dealing with frail, old people who can't deal with the heat changes," she said. "It puts a lot of people in dire situations, particularly during this time of the year."
Bluestein said she complained to officials, who blamed the outages on construction of a $6 million, 65-unit assisted-living facility within the 50-acre Heartlands community.
Pub Date: 8/25/97