WRAL Investigates

Wayne assisted living center fined $16K after six hepatitis deaths

Posted July 23, 2011

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— The owners of a Wayne County assisted living center have been fined $16,000 after a hepatitis B outbreak that killed six people last year.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services levied the fine against Glen Care of Mount Olive on Wednesday. The state released the information Friday after being notified the facility received the letter.

Last year, state health officials found violations at the facility involving unsafe sharing of blood glucose monitoring equipment. They said the faulty procedures likely spread Hepatitis B to eight elderly residents, including six who died.

A state review committee had unanimously recommended the fine. The company can appeal or must pay the fine within 60 days.

In February, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the hepatitis-related deaths showed the need for vigilance in infection control.

Investigators with the state Division of Public Health issued a report last November that said unsafe practices with blood-glucose monitors likely spread the illness. The monitors were sometimes stored together, weren't labeled with residents' names and weren't disinfected after each use, according to investigators.

A subsequent report by the state Division of Health Service Regulation included information from Glen Care staffers who said lancing devices for blood-glucose testing had to be shared by all patients, and workers weren't sure if the devices were cleaned before and after each use.

Hepatitis B is a contagious virus that can cause severe liver problems, and it is typically transmitted by exposure to blood or body fluids. Symptoms include fever, extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, dark urine and yellowish skin.

Glen Care officials have denied any responsibility for the hepatitis outbreak, suggesting it was caused by people coming in from outside or by residents sharing drinks or having unprotected sex. Medical technicians said they never told state investigators that they used the same glucose monitors on different patients.

The officials said in a response to the Division of Health Service Regulation report that they "strongly disagree" with the state's findings and have asked for a meeting with regulators. The officials called statements by some workers "a complete fabrication" and noted that the operations manager has since resigned and that at least one medical technician "no longer works in this facility."

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  • kermit60 Jul 26, 2011

    The fine, just goes to show you what value the state puts on human life. Someone should be charged criminaly.

  • beachboater Jul 25, 2011

    I know the facility, and I know some of the people that work there. The ones I know are as caring and as careful as anyone could be. Of course, there is turnover in a facility such as this, and new people are coming in all the time. The people that worked with my mother were as good as it gets.

  • carolinaprincess62 Jul 25, 2011

    The Lancing Device , the device used to hold the lancet was reused not the lancets. Also, there is a limit on what the state can penalize and......they are going to be sued by the families. They've also lost several of their buildings.

  • Dido Jul 25, 2011

    "Glen Care staffers who said lancing devices for blood-glucose testing had to be shared by all patients, and workers weren't sure if the devices were cleaned before and after each use."~~I've been a nurse for 28 years and CANNOT understand how lancets were being reused! They are designed to be used ONCE and then disposed of. They come 100 to a box-how could ANYONE be so ignorant as to think they could reuse them? A $16,000 fine for the loss of six lives is ludicrous.

  • BeenHereSince67 Jul 25, 2011

    Wow. Sixteen whole thousand dollars as a fine, a punishment for allowing staff members to spread a killer blood-borne disease so that the management didn't have to by a new box of lancets. Here we are 30 years after the adoption of Universal Precautions, and numerous staff members allow themselves to be bullied by management into killing 6 people and infecting others.

    Hey Folks, THIS is what happens when you cut state funding to inspect facilities like this. Rich people who only care about getting richer aren't prevented from doing the wrong thing over a $25 box of lancets. Only a sixteen thousand dollar fine - which they will weasel out of somehow. Incredible!

  • luvwhljr.neways Jul 25, 2011

    They are paying for exactly what they are geting.(The owners) The place is NASTY!I know, I worked there many years ago and have had relatives a relative in the stinking thing! The state should suprise them a bunch!

  • wattsun Jul 25, 2011

    and they call growing old the Golden Years?

  • nighthunter Jul 25, 2011

    Less than $3K/person is not much of a fine!