Home care facilities suddenly shut down; workers unpaid

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GREENSBORO, N.C. --- State leaders are getting involved after home care facilities in Greensboro and Montgomery County suddenly shut down last week with no warning to the people who lived or worked there.

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Julie Henry said the State Secretary of DHHS and the Governor were very disturbed to hear 79 adult and elderly residents had to go through an emergency relocation after Serenity Care Family Home, Serenity Care Rest Home and Tillery Chase Assisted Living homes closed unexpectedly last week.

"The Secretary brought together a task force to look at how to identify homes that are in danger of sudden closure and to work with our local partners to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future." said Henry.

Henry said the owners of the homes, Larry and Amy Patton, notified the state last week they would be closing the doors by Friday. She said they did not offer a reason or explanation, and there is no record the couple ever asked the state for financial assistance or help to prevent the closure.

Henry went on to explain, the State was in the process of revoking the Patton's license of the Tillery Chase location. Henry said they were cited for a variety of violations at the home since 2010, and in November they were notified they would have to make specific changes in order to keep their license.

"They failed to make those changes. They were notified in December that the state was in the process of revoking their license," explained Henry. "It's not a quick process. And we do everything we can to work with facilities to stay open. We need them and want to support these facilities."

Henry said these sort of sudden closures are rare, but they hope the task force will shed light on the State's ability to foresee and prevent them.

Meanwhile, the rest homes employed dozens of employees, several of whom tell Fox8 they are owed wages for their work at the homes.

"I actually have 104 hours that are unaccounted for and haven't been paid," said Duane Boone.

Boone worked at Greenbororo's Serenity Care home for eight months. He was working there full-time while taking Hospitality Management classes at GTCC.

"How could this happen? It's shock to think that somewhere you work doesn't give you any notice at all is just immediately shutting down," said Boone.

Now he is without a job, with bills to pay and a new baby born just Friday. "This would have been the rent check for a lot of us," he said.

"Many of the other employees are losing their homes, their cars, getting their power shut off. We expected to get paid for the last few weeks of work. Now- who knows," he added.

FOX8 Reporter Carter Coyle went to Larry and Amy Patton's home in Ruffin and left them messages in attempt to get an explanation for the sudden closure. No one has responded.

"It's just awful. Immoral, unethical," insisted Boone. "If for any reason you had to close, there had to have been a better way this could have been done."

There is a mandatory 30 day notice requirement to inform residents if they are being relocated. Henry said it will be up to the local District Attorneys to press charges.

Henry said the Governor and Secretary of DHHS wished to express their gratitude for local employees who came to work to help relocate the residents, even after knowing they likely would not get paid.