Former CareAmerica Employees, Residents Say Financial Woes Hurt Facilities
Posted February 16, 2006 8:07 a.m. EST
GARNER, N.C. — An adult-care company under investigation by the labor department is now facing charges of failed care by its own employees.
Workers at CareAmerica say patient care has suffered as a result of them not getting paid. They said morale was low and the company didn't give them the resources they needed to do their jobs.
Employees at three of the 13 CareAmerica facilities in North Carolina say they were not paid in December.
"It got really bad," said former CareAmerica employee Letrice Sharpe. "There was a period of time where I was just ashamed to work there."
Employees say they were ashamed because during the time they were not paid they say the quality of patient care decreased dramatically.
"I was thinking about how long the residents were going without," said Sharpe. "I mean, if they're not paying us, that means they're not getting the proper care and they don't have the proper supplies they need."
"I know it was bad because I've been in that predicament like that," said Jasper Hamlet.
Hamlet -- a six-year resident of the Garner facility -- said he was afraid the aides he depended upon might walk out.
"That made me feel awful, because of the fact that they was getting the runaround made me feel like they (were) going to leave," he said.
CareAmerica used to own the assisted-living facility in Garner where Hamlet lives, and where Sharpe works. A new company took over in January, and both employees and residents said the new company is paying their wages and has made great improvements to the facility. Most importantly, they said the residents are now better cared for.
"Food is better, landscaping is better, and I think the residents are a whole lot happier with this company," said Hamlet.
he North Carolina Department of Labor said CareAmerica is working closely with the state. They announced Thursday that have agreed to pay the back wages by June 3.
The State Division of Facility Services, which oversees patient care, is also investigating. They have visited four homes so far, and found no significant problems. CareAmerica officials were unavailable for comment.