Residents removed from Chatham County retirement home
Posted August 24, 2010 9:52 a.m. EDT
Updated August 24, 2010 6:48 p.m. EDT
Goldston, N.C. — State regulators suspended the license of a Chatham County retirement home on Tuesday and began relocating residents to other facilities.
The Adult Care Licensure Section of the Division of Health Service Regulation notified the operator of Hill Forest Rest Home, at 9141 U.S. Highway 421 in Goldston, of the suspension on Monday after a site visit revealed inadequate staffing and violations of residents' rights.
"Conditions at Hill Forest Rest Home present an imminent danger to the health, safety and welfare of the residents, and ... emergency action is required to protect the residents," officials said in a letter to Warren Gold, administrator of Gold Care Inc. in Rocky Mount, which runs the retirement home.
Twenty-four residents were in the 40-bed home as of Monday.
Workers called in state regulators, saying they planned to walk out because they haven't been getting paid.
"We have been going through and not getting our paychecks correctly for a year, and the only reason we hung in there was for the residents," former Hill Forest employee Wendy Maland said. "Potentially, (the residents) wouldn't have had anything to eat next week, so we all took a stand – all the staff – called the state and told them what we were doing. We were walking out."
Regulators revoked Hill Forest's license in March, but the facility was allowed to continue operating until the owner's appeal was settled.
Jeff Horton, chief operating officer for the Division of Health Service Regulation, said inspectors had to act quickly after hearing from the disgruntled staff members.
"When you don't have any staff there to help assist residents with medication and personal care, it can be perceived as negligent," Horton said.
Maland and other former employees blamed Gold for long-standing problems at Hill Forest.
An April inspection found moldy showers, roaches and flies in the kitchen, residents using bed sheets to cover windows for privacy and bathroom doors propped open, according to state Department of Health and Human Services records. A follow-up inspection in June found violations of fire and electrical codes and exterior doors that didn't lock properly, records show.
Inspections in 2008 and 2009 also turned up a range of violations, including a lack of food for residents, records show.
Since March, Hill Forest has had zero stars on the state's four-star rating system for assisted living facilities.
Gold couldn't be reached Tuesday for comment.
"It's not the outcome we wanted. We didn't want this to happen, but it had to be done," Maland said.
"I really hate to see it closed down, and I'm really going to miss the residents that were there," former Hill Forest employee Delois Peoples said. "We were more or less a family."