Families of residents at a North Carolina nursing home are accusing the provider of failing to address its chronic understaffing in a new class-action lawsuit that alleges the issue led to neglect. 

The suit was brought against the Citadel Salisbury in late May and alleges the facility’s operator, Accordius Health, failed to correct existing staffing issues when it took over the nursing home in February 2020, according to a report by NC Policy Watch.

Some of the allegations point to staffing data the facility submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services showing nurse staffing met minimum federal requirements on only 10 of 275 days between April 2020 through December 2020 — during the heart of COVID-19. For 152 days, the nursing home reported no registered nurse work hours. 

A request for comment from McKnight’s Long-Term Care News to Accordius was not returned by production deadline. 

The current lawsuit stems from family complaints that first surfaced in late 2020. At the time, Accordius said it was working to address concerns raised by residents and families but assured the facility was well-staffed. 

“The Citadel Salisbury remains committed to providing the highest quality of care for the residents we serve,” Ashely Wilson, Accordius Vice President for strategy and development, told the news organization in October. “While staffing has been a significant challenge for all nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Citadel Salisbury is currently well staffed. Our direct care staffing per resident over the last month exceeds the national average.”

Resident families, however, said the operator’s business model was designed to cut staffing expenses to reduce costs.