Steven Bryant recorded a recent visit he made to Universal Healthcare of Lillington to see his 82-year-old mother. Sudie Bryant had complained of the care she had been receiving, he said, so he wanted to document what happened while he was there. Sudie had been lying in a puddle of urine for so long that it had turned brown.
“Sir, I’ll be honest with you. We’ve been doing our best,” an aide said. “It’s just two [aides] in this hall, and honestly, we’re doing the best we can.”
As one aide leaves to get an administrator, the other explains staff cutbacks are the problem.
“I am glad that you are here to see it because we tell them time and time again that it’s too much, too much,” she said. “They don’t listen to us. We need the families to complain. We need families to see how it really is.”
Choice Health Management Services has 16 facilities in North Carolina, most operated under the Universal Healthcare brand. Medicare has levied fines totaling $567,976 for problems at six of the facilities since 2015.
Universal Healthcare Fuquay-Varina topped the list, with $234,260 in fines, followed by Universal Healthcare Lillington, with fines of $151,483. Universal Healthcare North Raleigh was fined $31,186 two years ago, the smallest fine against any of the six facilities.
The Raleigh facility has a history of repeat federal violations for insufficient staffing and failing to answer patients’ call bells in a timely manner.
The fines assessed against the three Universal Healthcare facilities in the Triangle combined to top the $246,000 in fines Medicare levied against 22 other nursing homes within a 25-mile radius of Raleigh in the past three years.
The incident at Universal Healthcare Lillington, where a man recently recorded a video showing improper care for his mother, involved a patient infested with maggots.
A doctor from an outside clinic found “maggots living in a wound on the resident’s foot” when he removed the patient’s shoes, according to a report. An aide at Universal Healthcare told investigators she discovered the maggots the previous day and went “screaming out of the room” without taking further action.
Universal Healthcare of Fuquay-Varina was fined after a resident at risk for wandering walked out the front door and across the parking lot. Inspectors checked all of the bracelets worn by at-risk patients to alert staff if they were about to wander off and found that none of them worked, according to a report.
“That’s ridiculous,” Powell said when he heard about the issues at Universal Healthcare facilities. “I am at a loss for words. I got to find a place to move my mom.”