LAKE WACCAMAW, NC (WECT) - Pack up and get out. That’s what more than 50 residents at a Columbus County assisted living facility were told one week ago.
A complaint from a resident prompted an investigation, and eventually the license at the Lake Point Assisted Living Center.
“If I hadn’t got it started, I don’t know what would happen,” said 64-year-old Jerry Singletary, who sounded the alarm on conditions at Lake Point. “I didn’t really realize how bad it was until I experienced coming here."
Singletary is now at Brunswick Cove in Leland, but for the past eight years, he has lived at the Lake Waccamaw facility located at 206 Wananish Avenue.
Then he was told to leave last week, perhaps, Singletary said, because he raised concerns about the conditions of the place.
“We were down to two medical techs and they were working 24-hour shifts," Singletary told WECT’s Chelsea Donovan on Wednesday. "We were not getting our morning medicine until like 2 in the afternoon.”
For the past few months, Singletary has been drafting a laundry list of problems.
“The stench inside was terrible,” he said.
The substandard conditions, patient neglect and staffing issues prompted Singletary to call the N.C Department of Health and Human Services on Oct. 14.
“The night I started making phone calls, we had one person that was an employee that was there, and it was a housekeeper," he said. "A housekeeper was running the whole place and she was crying and so upset from being there alone, no one to help her.”
Singletary said the director of the facility was nowhere to be found during Hurricane Florence. He says residents were without power for eight days and slipping and falling in the dark on the wet floors.
“She couldn’t be reached on the phone, and during the storm, she didn’t come out one time,” Singletary said.
WECT tried to speak to someone at the facility Wednesday but the doors were locked, and people appeared to be cleaning inside. No one would answer the facility’s phone either.
Less than 24 hours after Singletary’s call to DHHS, the state was knocking at the door and starting its investigation, which revealed “evidence of neglect and failure to protect residents from potential harm that presents an imminent danger to the health and welfare of residents in the home.”
The N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation, a division of the DHHS, suspended Lake Pointe Assisted Living’s license on Oct. 17. The DHSR, Columbus County Department of Social Services, and Trillium LME/MCO helped relocate all of the residents.
“I feel great about it," Singletary said. "Soon as the state got there, they spent two days there, and immediately they called us in to the dining room and said, ‘We are shutting the place down. All of you have to be out today.’ That quick.”
Lake Pointe Assisted Living has 20 days from the date of the suspension to file an appeal. It is not clear if the facility has done that.
Lake Pointe has been cited for various violations in the past two years, according to DHSR records.