Local News

Chatham County Rest Home In Danger of Being Shut Down

Posted February 29, 2000

— A Chatham County nursing home where a patient was apparently raped is in danger of being shut down.

State inspectors say conditions inside The Laurels of Chatham nursing home present an immediate threat to the health and safety of its residents.

Last week, Pittsboro detectives say someone raped an 85-year-old woman in her bed at the facility. The incident left the woman with internal injuries.

"It's been very hard to deal with this past week, knowing that other people are at risk, and this person has not been apprehended," says Lori Braxton, a relative of the victim.

In the past two weeks, 10 alleged cases of mistreatment at The Laurels of Chatham have been reported to state regulators, including two accusations that the staff failed to protect residents from sexual abuse. There is also an accusation that the staff failed to initiate CPR on a resident who was in full code.

The state has just completed a four-day inspection on the facility. The findings have not yet been released to the public, but in a letter, state health leaders notified The Laurels of Chatham that the immediate jeopardy to residents' safety and health must be removed by March 23 or federal funding will be cut.

"This is probably the most serious remedy that we have," says Steve White, licensing and certification chief of theDivision of Facility Services.

Phillip Johnson, administrator at The Laurels of Chatham, told WRAL that "any concerns will be addressed quickly and immediately as we are committed to our residents, their families and the people of Chatham County."

The loss of the funding would be a major blow to the facility as Medicare and Medicaid pay for almost 75 percent of the residents in the facility.

Investigators are still analyzing evidence at the SBI lab to try to learn more about the alleged rape.


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