The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

February 12, 2013

DHHS Task Force Moves Ahead with Efforts to Protect Residents in Care Homes


Tuesday, February 12, 2013 — Last month, it was announced that Secretary Aldona Wos had appointed a task force to work on a plan to identify adult residential care facilities that have the potential to close rapidly and to develop uniform protocols for responding to emergency housing needs.  This note is to provide an update on the work of the task force thus far.


The secretary’s action followed the sudden closure of three adult care facilities by operators in Guilford and Montgomery counties that left local social services, mental health and state agencies scrambling to relocate dozens of residents with only three days’ notice. This was in violation of North Carolina’s 30-day notice rule.


Through the combined efforts of DHHS officials, local departments of social services and the local behavioral health managed care organization, all of the residents who were displaced were successfully relocated to alternate housing.  


Recent assessments of residents in licensed care homes have determined that thousands may be ineligible for Medicaid payments to cover some of the services they receive. As a result, some facilities may discharge residents, many of whom have appealed eligibility denials and are maintaining residency while they await the outcome of their appeals. Secretary Wos has instructed the task force to work proactively with a goal of preventing another crisis situation for residents.


The task force, which went to work immediately, has taken the following steps toward the Secretary’s goal:

Begun utilizing databases to identify facilities that have the potential to close rapidly, including information about licensure/enforcement action, effect of federal and state actions that could affect a home’s finances, and presence of any criminal convictions/charges

Exploring ways to further assist local agencies to provide continuity of care for those who may be adversely affected by sudden facility closures

Surveying other states about measures being taken against facilities that act in a way that jeopardizes residents


In addition, Dr. Wos has asked the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys and the N.C. Association of County Commissioners for input. The DHHS task force includes key leaders from the divisions of Aging and Adult Services, Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services, Health Service Regulation and Medical Assistance, as well as the Attorney General’s Office, the N.C. Division of Emergency Management and the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys.