We've uncovered case after case of what's commonly called "elder abuse" at a local nursing home. The complaints range from sexual abuse and rape to poor distribution of medication and sub-standard living conditions.
We got an email from a woman who worked at Glencare of Wilmington alerting us and local government leaders of what she calls "inhumane living conditions and treatment of residents." We spoke with her and another former employee. Then we searched Glencare's file at the Department of Social Services to separate fact from fiction. We were shocked at what we found. DSS got six complaints about Glencare last January alone. While the specific complaints aren't documented, here's what DSS found after an investigation:
First residents in the Special Care Unit, which houses dementia patients and others with special needs, were not getting adequate supervision. In one case the report shows that one resident was lying at the end of his bed with no pants on while another resident with no pants on was standing behind, sexually assaulting him Multiple staff members also told DSS workers they actually witnessed the assault. But that's not all. Staff members told DSS they also witnessed the same resident on top of a female patient in bed.
DSS then looked at that patient's records and found that he had been caught in bed with yet another resident in November 2008. He also made sexual comments to a housekeeper, who filed a complaint.
Records show the patient met with a psychiatrist three times in 2008, but the doctor says he was never informed by Glencare about the patient's inappropriate sexual tendencies. If he had been informed, the doctor said, he would have prescribed medication to help supress them.
Remember the first incident with the resident at the end of the bed of another patient? DSS says Resident Care Coordinator Tanya Lewis didn't file an incident report until the next day, because she didn't think it was an incident. After examining the patient, two Glencare staff members also told Lewis they didn't see any evidence of assault, just bodily fluid and redness, so Lewis assumed nothing happened and didn't send the patient to see a doctor. In fact DSS says not only were doctors kept out of the loop in many if not all of these cases, but DSS was too.
Glencare's own policy for non-consensual sexual behavior states that
if there is evidence of sexual behavior, even if it is not witnessed,
the resident should be sent immediately to the emergency room, a doctor should be called and an administrator should be contacted. The administrator will then notify social services and the police. In all three cases DSS states that staff members actually caught residents in the act.
The DSS report also says staff members consistently failed to document medicine distribution and that Glencare hired a staff member that had already been placed on the state health care personnel registry for neglect of a patient at another facility. DSS considered these three violations Type A violations, which means they can result in death or harm to a patient.
Type A violations are the worst violation a nursing home can get.
DSS sent its report to the state Department of Health and Human Services suggesting that Glencare be fined $2,000 for the violations. In most cases DHHS then assigns the case to a committee, which hears from both sides. In this case the committee talked with Glen Kornegay, Glencare's owner, who said he'd recently bought the problem facility and changes were being made to correct the issues. The committee also talked with his wife Anne, a registered nurse and the vice president of Kornegay Healthcare, the facility supervisor and a personal care aide. All three told the committee the DSS report wasn't completely accurate. DSS says it was not given the chance to tell its side.
Eventually the committee voted 6 to 1 to recommend no penalty for Glencare, but DHHS chief Barbara Ryan overruled the committee and assessed Glencare a $2,000, which it must pay by mid-February.
We tried to set up an interview with Glen Kornegay to talk about the investigation and fine. He wouldn't go on camera, but he did tell us on the phone that "anything we have been investigated for, we've been found in compliance - except the ongoing investigations, which I am unaware of." We're not really clear on what he meant by that.
Meanwhile DSS received a total of 23 complaints against Glencare last year and has already received eight complaints this year. Even with the three Type A violations and the fine, the facility has a three-star rating on the North Carolina Health Services Adult Care Home Rating website; the highest any nursing home can get right now. We learned that's because the rating is based on the inspection for that one day. If the facility passes the inspection with flying colors on that day, it gets a glowing review until the next inspection.
During the last DHHS inspection in July 2009, Glencare scored 94.5 out of 100. Deficiencies ranged from issues on how hot the hot water was to failing to implement a doctor's orders. Glencare's three Type A violations were the only Type A violations issued in all of New Hanover County last year.
This afternoon we received a call from Glen Kornegay, who once again declined an interview. He did say, though, he is appealing the violations.
Former employees say Glencare of Wilmington continues to operate under deplorable conditions. We'll hear from those ex-employees tomorrow and we will continue to follow this story.