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Home-Health Agency Under State Investigation

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SPRING LAKE, N.C. — State officials are investigating a home-health care company after employees said they have gone months without a paycheck.

Compassionate Health Care and Helping Hands Agency is being investigated by the state Department of Labor. The state Department of Health and Human Services also said the company has two "outstanding deficiencies," declining to be more specific.

Compassionate Health Care operates five offices in Cumberland County and surrounding counties. Owner Janice Brown didn't return messages left at one of her main offices in Hope Mills and on her cell phone.

Christine Tyner said she worked at Compassionate Health Care for eight weeks before her first check arrived in the mail last Friday.

"I'm sitting by the mailbox just praying that the check was there. Nothing," Tyner said.

She already has had her car repossessed, and she is worried about buying Christmas gifts for her three children and disabled husband.

"There's a chance I'll have to move now because I don't have the income -- $375 a month just to pay my own rent," she said.

Despite the lack of a weekly paycheck, Tyner continues to care for her client, Linda Lewis, who has diabetes and bipolar disorder. Lewis began seeking care from Compassionate Health Care in July.

"I never saw or heard from them again (after the initial interview)," Lewis said. "Every time I went to call on them for something -- to have a doctor's appointment or to schedule something -- I never could get them."

So. she had Tyner, her neighbor, apply for a job with the company. Ever since, Tyner has visited daily.

Lewis said she fears people in positions similar to hers could be in danger.

"These are people, human beings who look upon somebody to take care of them, and they're trusting her," she said.


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