Records reveal a decade of poor conditions at Upstate assisted living facility

FOX Carolina Investigates finds vermin, elopement were ongoing issues at Oakridge Community Care
FOX Carolina Investigates finds vermin, elopement were ongoing issues at Oakridge Community Care
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 6:57 PM EDT
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INMAN, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - It’s been seven months since an arrest revealed the horrors happening at one Upstate assisted living facility.

Darryl Mast, who owned Oakridge Community Care Home, was arrested in February and charged with neglect, exploitation and breach of trust with fraudulent intent.

When officials got inside the facility in Inman, they found a bed bug infestation so bad residents had to leave almost all of their belongings behind.

Since his arrest in February, we’ve been asking how could the conditions inside got so bad.

According to more than 40 complaints filed with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, bug infestations were just one of many issues the residents had been dealing with for at least 10 years.

People filed the complaints, asking SCDHEC for help. Investigators followed up and in 32 cases found Mast violated the regulations meant to keep residents safe.

Almost half of the complaints mention bug infestations and more than a quarter say residents weren’t getting their medication.

On March 8, 2019, someone anonymously reported the facility has bed bugs, medications were not being given and the on-site pharmacy wasn’t doing reviews.

An investigation happened 10 days later and the SCDHEC employee found the complaint to be true.

Mast submitted a plan detailing how he would fix the problems and SCDHEC officials approved it.

But we found 10 more complaints about bugs were filed before the facility finally closed earlier this year.

Photos from the SCDHEC inspection into a Nov. 16, 2020 complaint show the extent of the...
Photos from the SCDHEC inspection into a Nov. 16, 2020 complaint show the extent of the infestation. The report says "live, small, reddish-brown, wingless insects were observed" in eight resident rooms. Multiple residents slept in each room.(SCDHEC)

Other complaints revealed a different issue entirely: Oakridge couldn’t keep track of its residents.

A complaint filed on Aug. 26, 2021 said a resident had a doctor’s appointment. However, they arrived at the office without any identification or paperwork.

“... all that was provided was a sticky note with a phone number,” the complaint said.

The report goes on to say the resident had trouble answering the doctor’s questions, so they couldn’t complete the appointment.

They called the number on the sticky note three times, and eventually the number, which belonged to Oakridge, called back. The person on the phone told the doctor’s office the patient wasn’t theirs.

A few calls later and someone on the phone at Oakridge tells the doctor’s office they have to call the transportation company that dropped off the resident.

They give the doctor a number, but when the office calls it they’re told the transportation company says, “we did not bring this patient and we have no trace of [redacted] in our system.”

Another call is made to Oakridge. This time the person on the phone says they made a mistake and tell the doctor’s office they will come pick up the resident.

The complaint ends saying they, “... waited two and a half hours for a ride with no knowledge of what was going on or where [redacted] needed to go.”

SCDHEC investigated the incident, but found no violations.

Losing residents happened again and again.

In 2017, a complaint reports residents wandering off property “happens regularly,” adding that residents from Oakridge’s second location on Howard Street “are constantly wandering off in search of food.”

The investigation that followed revealed another incident happened on May 19, 2017. This time a resident “crawled down the road and went to another house.”

This time, SCDHEC cited them for violating regulations, yet the facility continued to operate and take in more residents for five more years.

There are more than 470 of these facilities in South Carolina. By looking through reports from many different state agencies, we’ve found the problems at Oakridge aren’t unique. According to the Department on Aging, the most common issue is cleanliness.

We’ve talked with SCDHEC about our findings and asked: Is the system working? We’ll bring you their answer tomorrow, Sept. 13, on The Six O’clock News.

We’ve reached out to Darryl Mast for comment on his charges multiple times since his arrest in February. He has declined to comment.