This article first appeared on North Carolina Health News and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.
Federal regulators can fine North Carolina nursing homes upward of a half-million dollars when facilities go seriously wrong — as in the case of a Fayetteville resident who died after staff found her with fire ants covering her face and upper body.
The deadly 2019 incident described in state records brought a fine of more than $530,000 against Carolina Rehab Center of Cumberland. Federal law mandates that the fines, amounting to $35 million in N.C., must be used to improve quality of life for nursing home residents through grants to facilities and agencies.
Fines levied after an investigation into the fire-ant attack went into state coffers set up for this purpose, into a pot that bulges larger year after year and puts North Carolina third highest in such totals nationally.