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This Charlotte Observer multifaceted investigation examines the shortcomings of the North Carolina mental health care system. The reporter has found that "from 1994 to mid-1999 at least 34 people under the care of NC mental-care facilities have died suddenly or in circumstances that could raise questions about their care." Among the major findings are the facts that North Carolina "allows individuals with little or no training to open mental health facilities" and that "the state offers little oversight." The reporter details examples of felony patient abuse and neglect, resulting from the loose hiring and training standards set by the state. The series also explores "the lack of children's mental health care and how patients who can't afford care often seek devastating loophole in the law: giving up custody for their children." "The four state-run psychiatric hospitals provide only vague reports listing patient deaths ... N.C. law doesn't require private facilities to report deaths at all." Another part of the investigation focuses on the problems of the rest homes and reveals that they "too often fail to provide appropriate care to patients with mental disabilities." The investigation has found also that "the state's effort to build independent housing [for mentally ill people] is a frustrating series of stops and stalls." The investigation reports on the efforts of the state lawmakers to overcome the problems, but concludes that "political wrangling and funding constraints have stifled a years-long campaign to improve the system."
Evidence of substandard care at a chain of rest homes is represented in this story. It is noted that many of the problems stemmed from cutting costs and accepting questionable residents in an effort to achieve a profit in excess of 40 percent. It is also pointed out that the problems were not isolated examples, but rather an indication of the problems that could be found in rest homes throughout North Carolina. The stories show that the state's regulations were terribly outdated for an industry that is changing rapidly and becoming increasingly corporate.
The reporters examined why inadequate care in rest homes and nursing homes is so widespread in a state-regulated industry.