DHEC fines assisted living facility for failure to evacuate from Hurricane Florence

Updated: Feb. 19, 2019 at 3:37 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A North Charleston residential home has been fined by the Department of Health and Environmental Control after they did not follow mandatory orders to evacuate during Hurricane Florence.

DHEC officials fined Midland Park Residential Home Care $2,600 after the home did not evacuate 41 residents and four staff members in September of last year.

According to the DHEC Administrative Order, the home was required to evacuate after Gov. Henry McMaster issued an order that all medical facilities licensed by DHEC to evacuate.

After not receiving any notification from Midland Park, a DHEC representative visited the home and found both residents and staff there and was told by the administrator they were not evacuating, the order states.

A Midlands Park representative says they decided not to evacuate because they felt the building was secure and the cost for hotels for residents and the staff was too great.

“After paying attention to the weather administrators decided at the last minute not to evacuate,” Assistant Administrator Geraldo Balagtas said. “We were looking out for our residents. Transporting 40 people with psychiatric issues isn’t as easy as transporting the elderly. A lot of these people are dependent on daily activities being regular.”

The order also says the DHEC official found several doors in the building that were blcoked by furniture.

Officials issued a compliance report on Nov. 8 and requested the facility provide information on corrections by Nov. 13. The report says unacceptable corrections were sent on Nov. 20 and more information was requested on Nov. 28.

Officials say they received another incorrect corrections report on Dec. 4 and a citation was issued on Dec. 6.

Balagtas claims they followed the reports but it wasn't clear what other corrections were needed.

"We followed DHEC regualtions exactly," he said.

DHEC says the $2,600 fine against the home includes failure to timely submit corrections, failure to implement its written plan and failure to maintain hall and corridors free from obstructions.

“We should have just evacuated,” Balagtas said. “At the same time moving so many people would have been difficult for us. But we would have spent they same amount of money as the fine was.”

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