ELSBERRY, Mo. - An assisted living center administrator said he's stranded with residents he cannot care for, and that he's running out of food for his patients.
Fox 2/KPLR 11 visited Bristol Manor in Elsberry, Missouri and found 21-year-old Reed Armistead had been left in charge of an entire assisted living center. He cannot leave without putting residents in danger. He cannot sleep.
Armistead said he got a job as a housekeeper at Bristol Manor Assisted Living. Then he said his boss left him with a note, which he read in part, "You probably could have guessed by now but I am not coming back. If you do walk out or leave without certified staff, corporate will report you to the State and you will be placed on an EDL list and possible jail time."
At just 21 years of age, Armistead said he's the only person taking care of four patients.
"I wasn't certified or trained to do any of this. I mean, I had no clue how to do anything really," he said.
On top of administrative duties, Armistead must cook, clean, do laundry, and give medication to patients.
"I didn't know how to get the refills," he said.
Armistead said he's been doing it all since January 19 without a single day off and no time to sleep.
"I have to wake up every couple hours to make sure they're ok," he said. "We recently had a fall and, you know, there's been times I've only gotten four hours of sleep the whole week."
"To take care of all of these people and do all the things they expect me to do and not really give me the ability to do it, it's crazy. I still don't believe it."
Armistead said he's now running out of supplies. A harsh truth made real at the sight of an empty supply closet.
"There's no lights in here. No milk. This is where all the milk and bread would be," he said. "Here's the deep freezer, which is practically empty."
So why not call police or regulators to shut the facility down? Armistead, who had served as a Boy Scout, said his oath keeps him here.
"I didn't want to force them all to leave and be redistributed," he said. "They're really nice people and seem to like each other and have a good time and they don't deserve that."
Armistead said he emailed corporate offices two weeks ago, writing, in part, "I will not allow this company to continue to take money from these people when they aren`t getting anything but the bare minimum."
He said no one answered his email.
Bristol Manor's website shows 60 facilities in Missouri with a home base in Sedalia. Armistead said a district manager promised to send help and did.
"They found one person and they immediately left. I mean, they didn't want to be in this situation," he said. "He called me in the morning and said, 'I can't show up.'"
"On a week where I had staff, I was still working 120 hours every week."
Armistead said his fiancée has pitched in.
"She has her own 40-hour a week job…the only one who's been there the whole time," he said.
Armistead said must break the rules to survive.
"We don't have milk or bread right now and there's no physical way for me to leave without breaking the rules, so I would either have to break the rules and leave them here or ask (my fiancée) to go again."
Three of the residents in the assisted living facility all seemed to be happy despite the conditions.
"I hope corporate can get it together," said one woman.
The company doesn't have much time because Armistead said he cannot do this much longer.
"I had to put my 60-day notice in just so I could attend my own wedding," he said.
Fox 2/KPLR 11 contacted Bristol Manor for a response. The Sr. Vice President called to say assisted living centers don't have the same regulations as nursing homes and the residents are self-sufficient. She said Armistead never directly called her for help and that, "There are procedures for things he did not do."
Armistead called to say he finally heard back from someone at corporate and that they told him help was on the way.