Assisted living facility shuttered by state officials

By: Erin Smith -

CLARKTON — Residents were recently removed from the Highland Gardens Assisted Living facility in Clarkton after the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services suspended the facility’s license to operate.

According to a letter sent to the operators dated Aug. 20, “This agency completed a follow-up and complaint investigation on August 4-5, 2015, at which time violations, including administrative penalties, were identified and the facility was verbally notified. Therefore, it is the finding of this agency that the facility has failed to provide services to assure the health, safety and welfare of the residents.”

Bladen County Department of Social Services Director Vickie Smith said her department assisted with the relocation of the residents.

“We assisted with the relocation of 34 residents to nine different facilities,” said Smith.

The letter lists the violations to include other staff qualifications; management of facilities, resident rights; health care personnel; reporting of accidents and incidents; and the violation of N.C. General Statute 131D-21 as it pertains to resident rights.

Documents provided to the Bladen Journal by the N.C. DHHS in Raleigh show that a required criminal background check was not performed for one staff member at the time of hire and a required review of a second staff member’s listing in the North Carolina Health Care Personnel Registry was not performed at the time of hire.

The violation report also states that the administrator-in-charge neglected to protect residents from abuse by not reporting allegations of resident abuse and failed to “assure that all required duties were carried out in the facility” as they related to such requirements as criminal background checks, resident rights, health care personnel registry and reporting of accidents and incidents.

In addition, the violations report also shows that resident rights were not protected and that the facility “failed to ensure each resident was free from physical abuse related to the abuse of two residents.”

The violations report also states the facility failed to report to law enforcement of use of a stun gun by a staff member.

The facility has 20 days to appeal the suspension.

Erin Smith can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

Erin Smith