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State probing wage complaints against home health firm

Posted October 20, 2009

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— Employees of a Raeford home health care company say they haven't been paid in more than a month, and the state Department of Labor has launched an investigation into nine wage complaints.

Triangle Medical Services managers declined to comment on employee complaints, referring all questions to the company attorney.

Triangle Medical Services Billing dispute blamed for payroll problem

Attorney Jonathan Charleston said in a statement that the state Division of Medical Assistance withheld Medicaid reimbursements to Triangle Medical for a month because of a billing dispute. The lack of revenue meant the company couldn't meet its payroll, he said.

Brad Deen, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said Medicaid reimbursements are billed "on a pretty tight schedule.” He couldn't speak specifically about Triangle Medical, but he said delays are typically caused by errors in paperwork filed with the state’s Medicaid program.

Charleston said Triangle Medical has reached a tentative agreement with the state, and company officials expect the state to release the money that has been withheld. The company intends to use the money to pay its employees what they are owed, he said.

"Triangle Medical Services deeply regrets any hardship experienced by its valued employees," Charleston said in the statement.

Corey Hope, a certified nursing assistant who said he hasn't been paid since early September, said he needs his paycheck to pay his rent, child support and other monthly bills.

"You can't make an excuse for the state when it comes to paying for your child," Hope said. “They think we just go there and we bother them and we just get on them continuously about money, but really we have bills.”

Patricia Cummings said she went a month with no pay before she quit on Oct. 2. She said Triangle Medical owner, Harry Southerland, needs to level with employees.

"He needs to stand up to the plate, have a meeting with all employees and give us a reason why we're not getting paid," Cummings said.

Three years ago, another home health firm, Compassionate Health Care and Helping Hands in Hope Mills, went months without paying employees. Its owner never explained the reason for the payroll problem, and the company has since shut down.

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