DHEC looking into report of patients not receiving medications at West Ashley senior home

Patients test negative for prescribed meds

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Brookdale senior living facility on Charlie Hall Boulevard in West Ashley - GOOGLE EARTH
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  • Brookdale senior living facility on Charlie Hall Boulevard in West Ashley
A West Ashley senior living facility is facing scrutiny following a report that some patients may not be receiving their prescribed medications.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control is looking into allegations surrounding Brookdale Charleston after at least four of its patients tested negative for medication they should have been receiving. This revelation led one senior staff member at the 100-bed facility that includes an Alzheimer’s care unit to contact police, suggesting that foul play may have occurred.

In early September, staff at the West Ashley assisted living home noticed that a patient was having medical issues, according to an incident report filed with the Charleston Police Department in December. That patient’s urine was tested to determine if he had been receiving his medication, and the results came back negative.

The report states that Brookdale Executive Director Terri Robinson then ordered that three other patients be tested. All three tested negative for their prescribed medications, she told police. Robinson then took further steps to verify these findings, having all four patients tested again by another company, but the results came back the same.

According to the incident report, Robinson told police that all the medications in question are various types of opioids and must be checked out by a technician before being issued to patients. The report states that five employees “are linked to the possible thefts because they were the ones who checked out the medications.”

At the time the report was filed on Dec. 15, 2016, Robinson said she had not spoken with any of the suspects.

Robinson told police that she contacted the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control and was advised to file a police report. Robinson did not return calls from the City Paper, but a Brookdale corporate spokesperson was willing to comment.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we contacted the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) when we learned there may have been a discrepancy with a resident medication. Under their advisement, we contacted the police for any additional assistance. As of this time, we don’t have any evidence of wrongdoing. We direct you to them for any further questions,” said Heather Hunter, senior public relations specialist for Brookdale, in January.

This is not the first time the West Ashley assisted living facility has come under fire. Last July, 90-year-old Brookdale resident Bonnie Walker was found dead in a retention pond behind the facility, the victim of an apparent alligator attack.

After that incident, DHEC released a statement, saying, “When a serious incident occurs at a facility that we regulate, we initiate an investigation into the incident to see if the facility violated any licensing standards and regulations. After DHEC inspectors complete their investigation, we make our findings available to the public. We have received four complaints about this facility in the past two years. Those complaints involved allegations of under-staffing, poor sanitation, and abuse.”

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