Another family speaks out about mistreatment at Oakridge Community Care Home in Inman

FOX Carolina’s investigation continues as a second arrest is made...
New details emerge as a second arrest is made. - WHNS
Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 5:28 AM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - “Nobody deserves to live that way.”

Angie Price says her 81-year-old aunt Dolores is a vibrant, caring woman.

“She was a very loving lady,” Angie said. “Loved everybody. Would do anything for anyone.”

But she says these past few years have been a lot tougher.

“The dementia hit her, and she kind of went downhill from there, Price told FOX Carolina.

Angie says Dolores was placed into a Oakridge Community Care Home 1 back in January 2021. She tells us she was immediately concerned about the facility.

“I was just disgusted with the overall look of the place,” she said. “And I was really not happy about it.”

“We were there at Christmas,” she added. “Then I got the phone call the day they were moving her out. And when they told me that I was like ‘oh my goodness.’”

57-year-old Darryl Mast, the owner of Oakridge, was initially charged with exploitation and neglect of vulnerable adults by the state Attorney General’s office on February 14th of this year.

Just days after that, our cameras captured residents being evacuated and placed into other facilities in the Upstate.

Fast forward to March 4th, and Mast’s wife, 25-year-old Veronica Garcia, has now also been charged by the AG with neglect and failure to report abuse of 37 elderly residents inside Oakridge.

The Attorney General says Garcia “knowingly and willfully failed to provide care…to maintain the health or safety” of residents.

FOX Carolina also uncovered evidence from a DHEC investigation that Garcia, who officials say was in charge at Oakridge in Mast’s absence, didn’t have a license to provide care to the facility’s patients.

“Just…horrific,” remarked Price.

Angie says she never knew the full extent of the horror her aunt was going through on a daily basis until it was too late.

“One time she mentioned that she was itching or something – that there were bed bugs,” Price said.

Over the course of our investigation, FOX Carolina has uncovered and brought you details of the fines DHEC has levied against Oakridge for many violations, some of them dating back years. We were able to learn these details by obtaining various administrative orders and consent orders from DHEC, where the agency fined Oakridge thousands of dollars and told them to correct certain issues.

The violations DHEC’s own investigators documented at Oakridge almost always had to do with problems like bed bugs, lice, and rodent infestations, coupled more recently with a lack of qualified supervision for residents and lack of medication available to them – plus several other issues.

FOX Carolina was able to obtain even more of these details recently through Freedom of Information Request made to the Administrative Law Court in Columbia, after a judge upheld the emergency suspension order issued on the Oakridge facility.

Documents from our station’s FOIA request revealed even more harrowing details, including horrific photo evidence of these exact problems inside the facility—which DHEC says were not corrected by Darryl Mast.

Even with all of these details, it’s the families we have spoken with, like Angie’s, who show us the true human cost of investigations like this.

“There’s no words,” Price said, when talking about how she felt once she learned what was really happening at Oakridge. “All I could do was cry.”

Angie says Dolores was admitted to the hospital just days after being transferred to a new assisted living facility in Gaffney after Oakridge was evacuated.

The family shared heartbreaking photos with FOX Carolina of Dolores’s condition in the hospital, where she still resides tonight.

“She was very dehydrated,” Price explained. “And she had a sore on her heel. And she was covered in bedbug bites.”

“I asked about the bedbug bites,” Price added, “and the lady said it was the worst case she had seen.”

Now that she’s had time to reflect, Angie says she has questions.

“Definitely ‘why?’” she said. “And ‘how could they get away with this?’”

“What will be done?” she went on. “And what do these people get from it? I mean, they have suffered. They need help for this.”

“When you trust someone with your loved one, you would think – and you’re paying for it – you would think they would take care of them and do what they are supposed to do,” Angie concluded.

We asked DHEC why Darryl Mast’s license wasn’t revoked sooner.

The state agency responded to us by saying: they generally opt to collect fines and allow a facility the chance to correct things, rather than moving residents out and shutting a facility down. They say this is because doing so can create “feelings of stress and confusion” for patients.

“Do you think that maybe they should have stepped in a little sooner?” Fox Carolina’s Matt Kaufax asked Angie, when talking about what she thought officials could have done to help her loved one.

“Absolutely,” said Price without hesitation. “Yes.”

FOX Carolina is staying on top of this investigation, and looking deeper into the state policies overseeing facilities like Oakridge.

It’s something we plan to ask our state leaders about, as more details revolving around Oakridge, around the actions of Darryl Mast Mast and Veronica Garcia, and around DHEC’s response to practices at assisted living facilities continue to be uncovered by our team.