Yesterday we told you about several cases of elder abuse at Glencare assisted living in Wilmington. A DSS investigation revealed violations ranging from sexual abuse and rape to poor distribution of medication.
Our investigation was sparked by an e-mail from a former Glencare employee. WWAY's Joe Mauceri sat down with that woman and another former employee who say conditions have not improved since last year's DSS investigation. Corey Rotella says residents at Glencare have "inhumane living conditions." Rotella says she tried to alert DSS, government leaders and other media about the deplorable conditions before she was fired.
"The longer I worked there the more I saw that things weren't making sense," Rotella said.
Glencare of Wilmington hired Rotella as a housekeeper last June. After a month or two she was promoted to nurses aide in the Special Care Unit. Rotella says the unit, which houses demented and other special needs residents, was always short on supplies.
"When I would go to them, they would say, 'Make due with what you got,'" she said. "We had toilets that would break down the entire shift. The entire shift. And we only had two wheelchair accessible bathrooms, so we had to use them anyway."
She also says residents would often have unexplainable bruises.
"There's one resident, I walked in, black eye, knot on his head, little mark on his nose."
Problems with this facility are nothing new. Before Kornegay Healthcare bought it, it was known as Jasmine Cove. Before that the Meadows. Under both names it had a history of violations.
"Over the three name changes since I've been there, nothing has changed," another former Glencare employee said. She is a certified nursing assistant who asked that we hide her identity. We'll call her "mary". She confirms Rotella's story.
"The hot water problems. Staff not being properly trained to take care of the elderly. Residents come up with bruises. No one knows where they came from," Mary said. "They blame each shift for it."
Mary says she documented everything she saw and reported it to her supervisors.
"When you report it, it's like a chain of command," Mary said "But in that chain of command, it's like nothing is done after we do our part as far as reporting."
Glencare's own policy says the administrator is responsible to report accidents and incidents. But DSS says the incidents these employees are telling us about were never reported. In fact, employees were asked to stop documenting problems altogether in the Special Care Unit.
Rotella says she's not just a disgruntled employee. In December, more than a month before she was fired, Rotella sent an e-mail to DSS asking if the incidents she witnessed were typical in three-star assisted living facilities and even asked what she could do to help. Rotella also contacted a patients rights advocacy group and says she began to voice her concerns around the facility.
"They had us have a meeting," she said. "They sat me down and another employee down and they said we feel like you're stepping on our toes."
After a year and a half on the job Glencare administrators fired Rotella, saying she failed a drug test. But Rotella refused to leave until she saw the test results and had to be escorted off the property by law enforcement.
We contacted the Department of Labor to find out the law regarding employee drug testing. The department told us a company does not have to provide the actual test to an employee, but the employee must be told what she tested positive for in writing. The employer must also tell the employee she has the right to have the sample tested by an independent agency at her own cost. Rotella says that never happened. She says there is no way she failed the drug test.
Since Rotella was fired, Glencare has taken out a restraining order against her claiming she threatened the administration before she was fired. Other employees who've raised concerns about resident care have also been accused of threatening administrators.
In December, Ann Kornegay, Vice President of Kornegay Healthcare, testified about another former employee who threatened "to get them back". We asked Mary, who was also fired from the facility, if she was just a disgruntled employee.
"My life goes on," Mary said. "I look at it as one door closing, another one is opening for me for the better. It's not about a vendetta. It's because I care about the people that live there, that reside there."
The two women say the only reason they decided to come forward was to protect their elderly friends.
"You have some residents that don't have any family come see them," Mary said, "so they basically need a voice to speak what goes on in their everyday living for them."
Glencare owner Glen Kornegay declined to comment on any of the accusations. So far this year DSS has received eight complaints regarding Glencare of Wilmington.
Since being fired, Rotella has started a petition to reform the laws and regulations for adult care homes in North Carolina. Click here to check it out