I -Team: Incomplete Therapy Bathroom

Published 07/14 2014 10:48PM

Updated 07/14 2014 11:15PM

Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County- What was supposed to be a therapy bathroom for a disabled woman, turned into an incomplete mess on the second floor of a Luzerne County home.  The project's completion date has come and passed and the state funds awarded to the Wilkes-Barre family are all but gone.  With nowhere else to turn, the family called the I-team for help.  The bathroom is being built for a woman confined to a wheelchair.  She has cerebral palsy and receives around the clock care.  Her mother says she has been waiting for these types of accommodations for years, there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel, then the project took a turn for the worst.

The tile is laid and the frame work for the tub is in, but this is not what George and Jeanette Blauer  expected last month when the therapy bathroom for their daughter, Holly Barkovitz, was supposed to be complete.  Jeanette Blauer says "my daughter has Cerebral palsy.  All through the years her funding has gone up and up and up and for this handicapped bathroom for her. She was all thrilled and excited because for 15 years she has been getting a bed bath and her hair washed in the sink."

Over $21,000 in funding for the bathroom came from Luzerne and Wyoming Counties Mental Health and Developmental Services, also known as MHMR.  The project was awarded to the lowest bidder, who in this case was Roccograndi Company Painting and General Construction.  The work began in February and the Blauers say they were told it would take 20 to 28 days, but within a few weeks realized that wasn't going to happen.  George Blauer says "we had people that came in and said they had been putting down tile for 30 years, I never put down a piece of tile in my life and I probably would have done a better job than these guys did."  Blauer documented when Roccograndi employees arrived and how long they worked. As the months went on, the number of days on the job dwindled.

The family has now been living for more than 5 months without a bathroom.  The only thing that works is the toilet, but there is no door for privacy.  "Try living with no shower, no bathroom tub and no sink, for since let's be fair say March 1st," says George.

The project plans included a wider shower and a therapeutic tub.  As work got underway, construction took over the second floor, forcing the couple out of their bedroom and onto the couch.  Jeanette explains "I have never been camping before in my life, but you know what, I think I'd rather be in the woods!"

The I-team asked the owner of Roccograndi Company, Gary Roccograndi, for his side of the story.  After a few failed attempts to set up an on camera interview, Roccograndi agreed to a phone interview where he blamed George Blauer for the incomplete work.  Gary Roccograndi says "he was hot and cold.  Some days the guys really took liking to him, but for the most part he was very controlling." He says the family is the issue, though Roccograndi himself says he has only been to the property once. 

According to City Hall, no company with the Roccograndi name in it is licensed to do construction work within city limits.  The project's end date was in the middle of June and still the bathroom sits incomplete.  "I don't want another family to suffer like this, never, ever, I don't want to see anybody go through this because this is a horrible situation," cries Jeanette.

The I-team reached out to MHMR about the Blauer's situation, they told us they cannot discuss specific cases, but say it's up to the families to look into the contractor awarded the project.  They also told us they would try to do whatever they can to help alleviate this problem, which was not the same response the Blauers received just a month ago.

As for Roccograndi, the better business bureau gives the company a less than favorable grade.

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