07/18/11 — Facility could face $16,000 fine from state

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Facility could face $16,000 fine from state

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 18, 2011 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- GlenCare, an assisted-living facility, is facing a possible $16,000 fine as the result of a state investigation into a hepatitis B outbreak last year at the center that claimed the lives of five residents.

The Division of Health Service Regulations' Penalty Review Committee last week voted unanimously to support the fine as recommended by the staff of its Adult Care Section. It is now up to section chief Barbara Ryan on whether to impose the fine. She also has the option of increasing or decreasing the amount, said Jim Jones, a spokesman for the division.

That decision could come this week, he said.

GlenCare can appeal the fine through the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health and finally to Superior Court, Jones said.

Jones noted that GlenCare was inspected by the state in June earning a grade of 95 and a three-star rating out of a possible four. The star ratings depends on several factors including what happened and how a facility corrects problems, Jones said.

The Division of Public Health's findings traced last year's outbreak to glucometers that were stored together in insufficiently labeled containers, inadequately cleaned or disinfected after use, and claims that medication technicians at GlenCare used devices on more than one patient.

The state ordered the facility to adopt steps to improve safety.

The Wayne County Health Department first notified the Division of Public Health abut the outbreak on Oct. 12. There were four cases of hepatitis B among residents at the center at that time. The N.C. Division of Health Services Regulations also was told of the outbreak.

Beginning last October the state made several unannounced visits to GlenCare, reviewing records, interviewing staff and observing practices.

According to the state, the eight cases included six males and two females, five blacks and three whites, with a median age of 70. Seven of the cases were diabetics, and all eight had undergone fingerstick blood glucose testing. One person, the state report noted, died before hepatitis testing could be performed.

The report also showed that four of those diagnosed had been roommates, while residents of three adjacent rooms also became ill during the outbreak. At least two residents on each of the three hallways in the facility became ill.

GlenCare's owners maintained their staff's innocence and said there are other modes of transmission for the disease -- including sexual contact and drugs, as well as dental and podiatry visits where residents might have contracted the disease.

The News-Argus called the company's corporate office in Kenansville for comment, but was told that owners Glenn and Anne Kornegay were "not reachable today."