SC health dept. suspends 2 Charleston Co. assisted living facilities

SCDHEControl says it has taken emergency actions against four community residential care facilities including two in Charleston County.
Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 3:58 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 30, 2022 at 11:46 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control says it has taken emergency actions against four community residential care facilities including two in Charleston County to protect residents’ safety.

A release from the agency states it determined conditions and practices at the facilities, commonly known as assisted living facilities, “pose an immediate threat to the health, safety and welfare of the residents who live at them” and represent “significant violations of the state regulations that govern community residential care facilities.”

DHEC issued emergency suspension orders against Bowles Community Care Home No. 1 and No. 2 in McClellanville after DHEC staff conducted an inspection at both facilities on Wednesday, the release states. The violations they say they found include:

  • No staff at the facility, meaning residents were being deprived of care, supervision and services for an extended period of time
  • The kitchen was padlocked, meaning residents didn’t have an available supply of food
  • It could not be determined when the residents last ate and when medications were administered

Also, specifically at Bowles Community Care Home No. 2, DHEC staff said they found:

  • The facility was without working heat and indoor temperatures were between 50-60 degrees
  • Medications were accessible and not properly secured

Local and state authorities, including the S.C. Office of Ombudsman, the S.C. Department of Social Services, S.C. Department of Mental Health, and S.C. Department of Health and Human Services, are relocating 17 residents from Bowles Community Care Home No. 1 and No. 2, the agency said.

Their families have been notified and local officials are continuing to work with them, the release states.

Bowles declined to provide a comment on the suspension when contacted Friday afternoon.

DHEC also issued emergency suspension orders against Reese’s Community Care Home No. 1 and No. 2 in Columbia, where DHEC staffers say they found the following issues during inspections on Dec. 8, 9 and 12:

  • Insect infestations, including bed bugs and roaches
  • Failure to properly administer residents’ medications
  • Insufficient food provided and unsanitary kitchens

State agencies have assisted with relocation for the residents of Reese’s No. 1 on Dec. 9 and for Reese’s No. 2 on Dec. 16, DHEC said.

“It is the responsibility of community residential care facilities to operate in compliance with all applicable laws,” DHEC Director of Healthcare Quality Gwen Thompson said. “Our ultimate goal is for all of our state’s community residential care facilities to operate in accordance with these laws, which exist to establish standards for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the residents they care for. If a facility creates a dangerous living condition, we will take immediate and decisive actions to protect residents, who are always our top priority.”

DHEC regulates South Carolina’s assisted living facilities to ensure they provide quality care to their residents as required by law and regulation. The agency routinely monitors compliance of these facilities through inspections, incident reporting, and complaint investigations, the release states.

DHEC attempts to work with facilities to improve the quality and safety of care they provide and on their compliance issues unless an emergency action is needed to mitigate an immediate threat to residents posed by the facility’s conditions or practices.

Through inspections and investigations, compliance assistance and consultations, and regular communications with facilities, its partner agencies and organizations, and other stakeholders, DHEC works to ensure community residential care facilities have the resources and information they need for operating in compliance with state law.

DHEC encourages the public to use an online complaint form if they suspect any type of wrongdoing at a healthcare facility or service regulated by DHEC.

Anyone unable to submit a health facility complaint online can call DHEC at 1-800-922-6735 and indicate that they wish to file a complaint against a health facility or service, and DHEC will follow-up as needed.