Wake Forest assisted living center to remain open

tgoldsmith@newsobserver.comJanuary 12, 2012 

— An assisted living center, shut down by state regulators Jan. 5 and reopened by court order the next day, will remain open on a provisional basis, state Health and Human Services officials said.

The Wake Forest Care Center had its license suspended by regulators from the state Department of Health and Human Services after resident McKinley High, 79, a retired farmer from Spring Hope, was struck and killed by a vehicle after wandering away from the center.

A spokesman said that county and state inspectors have been at the center during every shift from Jan. 5 until noon Thursday, when they determined that the license suspension was no longer necessary. The state had told Wake Forest Care Center to take no new residents after Dec. 29 and that suspension of admissions remains in effect.

“We’ll have a provisional license for a while. I’ll make sure we keep our nose clean,” owner Richard Cresenzo said. “We had the residents who shouldn’t be here leave,” referring to residents with mental-health problems as a principal diagnosis.

The departures meant the 80-bed facility only has about 50 residents. It still faces state charges that Wake Forest Care Center committed several top-level violations, with potential penalties of as much as $20,000 each, as well as lower-level infractions.

The Type A1, or upper-level violations, were suggested by state regulators as a result of the facility’s failure to make adequate provision for personal care and supervision, health care and residents’ rights.

After a hearing on the charges by the state’s Penalty Review Committee, the state Adult Licensure Section will recommend a penalty to be signed off on by DHHS administrators. The center has been fined more than $40,000 by the state since 2006, when another resident wandered off and died.

Goldsmith: 919-829-8929

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