Questions surround home health agency Parker Home Care owes wages, state Medicaid office
Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 6, 2012
?Cheryl McLeod had to scramble to make ends meet for the last several months even with a job as a home health nurse. Her former employer, Parker Home Care, promised to pay her and other employees, but hasn’t.
The company, based in Albemarle, also is in the midst of repaying more than $300,000 to the Division of Medical Assistance under the state Department of Health and Human Services’ Medicaid agency for overpayment.
Repeated attempts to reach owners Lottie and Raynard “Ray” Parker were unsuccessful. According to the company’s website, Lottie Parker is the agency director and husband, Raynard, is assistant director.
The company has an office at 302 N. First St., in Albemarle. Attempts to leave messages at the Albemarle office were unsuccessful and a message said the voicemail was full. The company also has a Salisbury office at 729 N. Long St., where the phone has been disconnected. A Charlotte office listed online at 3125 Eastway Drive is closed. There is no home phone number listed for the Parkers.
The company employs about 50 people.
In June, McLeod began to notice infrequent paychecks, with the promise of payment.
The checks she received bounced once McLeod took them to her bank.
The home health care company told its employees to take their checks to a list of approved check cashing placing, she said.
After several checks were not paid, those check cashing places asked the employees not to return with checks from the company.
McLeod, of Salisbury, worked for two months with the company and did not get a paycheck. “I didn’t want to leave my clients hanging,” she said.
McLeod, a single mother, said she had to borrow gas money to get to work.
She has since found a new job, but she has a hold on her bank accounts. If she gets the $1,300 that she says Parker Home Care owes her, that would go toward accrued fees.
“I’m working, but it’s such a struggle because I’m so far behind.
“I hope it sheds light for other agencies that are out here,” she said.
McLeod filed a claim with the N.C. Department of Labor, but has not reached a resolution.
In 2010, Angela Blackwell, began working at Parker Home Care and said things were fine in the beginning.
In May, Blackwell said things began to unravel.
Parker Home Care eventually moved from paying employees every week, to every two weeks and then not at all, Blackwell said.
In June, just a few employees could cash checks, while others didn’t clear, she said.
Blackwell said she was told by the company if she cashed a check, it would be at her own risk.
Fees for bounced checks were starting to grow.
The single mother of two boys says their sports-related activities are costly. “I had to shuffle everything,” she said.
Blackwell, who had to borrow money, has since found another job. Parker Home Care was a second job for her, and it helped pay the bills.
The company not only owes employees past wages, but also several local check cashing businesses.
A Friend Indeed, located on North Long Street in Salisbury, is one of those.
“We have not been paid,” said a manager, who asked not to be identified.
The check cashing company had done business with Parker Home Care for the last two years and until recently had never had a problem.
The manager would not say how much Parker Home Care owes, but she said options are limited. “He says he would pay the money, but we have not been paid,” she said.
The state Division of Health Service Regulation, under the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, provides licensing and certification for acute and home care facilities.
Parker Home Care is still licensed, said spokesman Jim Jones, with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Public Affairs.
“A licensed home health care agency may have a satellite office in a contiguous county, and/or within 90 minutes from the main office,” Jones said.
“There had been questions of clinical policy guidelines issues with some of the charges that had been filed and the state Medicaid office had set up an accounts receivable,” Jones said.
After sending Parker Home Care a notice of overpayment, the company started the process of repaying $391,797 to the state Medicaid office.
“The goal here is that the Medicaid office recovers those funds,” Jones said.
This isn’t the first time the company has owed the state Medicaid office.
In April 2010, the Medicaid office recouped $594,741 from the Albemarle company, which has since repaid the amount in full, officials said.
The overpayment was due to noncompliance with Division of Medical Assistance’s Personal Care Services policy.
“The provider did not follow the rules for providing Personal Care Services and submitted claims for the noncompliant services to N.C. Medicaid,” said spokesman Brad Deen, with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Public Affairs.
There was no specific information available as to the nature of the infractions.
There were no complaints in 2011, Deen said.
In March 2012, there was one complaint, Deen said.
There was an allegation of theft of property from a client’s home, according to a state Division of Health Service Regulation report. An April investigation could not substantiate the theft.
A client called Parker Home Care’s office manager in February about stolen jewelry. The report said there was no evidence the company investigated the alleged theft or reported it to authorities.
The facility was cited for failure to report the allegation (as required) to the N.C. Health Care Personnel Registry, Deen said.
The Better Business Bureau has had no complaints since the company became accredited in July 2010.
Businesses pay a fee for accreditation review and monitoring. It does not mean the business has been endorsed by the agency.
The company has received an A- rating, mostly for the length of time the company has been in business.
The accreditation process involves a company being reviewed on 16 factors. A rating depends on complaints or how long the business has been operational, said Janet Hart, BBB vice president of public relations and communications.
Hart initially said the company was a member or had been accredited with the Better Business Bureau. After more research, Hart said the company had not made its monthly membership payments since October and was no longer accredited.
Complaints with the Better Business Bureau can be filed through its website at www.bbb.org.
To file a complaint regarding a home care facility to the Division of Health Service Regulation, contact the hotline at 1-800-624-3004 (within N.C.) or 919-855-4500. The complaint hotline is available 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, except holidays.
Other regulating agencies are available at www.ncdhhs.gov/dhsr/ciu/filecomplaint.html.