7 On Your Side helps employees owed thousands from largest assisted living provider in NJ

Nina Pineda Image
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Largest assisted living provider in NJ owes employees thousands
An art instructor who teaches seniors was painted into a corner, left unpaid by the largest assisted living provider in New Jersey.

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- An art instructor who teaches seniors was painted into a corner, left unpaid by the largest assisted living provider in New Jersey.

A picture of frustration for a dedicated art instructor. She'd spent hours teaching seniors painting at area nursing homes, but when New Jersey's largest assisted living provider stopped paying her - this starving artist turned to Nina Pineda and 7 On Your Side for help.

"I love elderly people," Donna La Placa said. "They're just so awesome."

La Placa is an art instructor at Moonlight Designs in New Jersey and her two passions are people and painting.

For the last 13 years, she's taught a packed room of seniors to tap into their inner Picasso.

"It brings joy to these folks," La Placa said. "I walk in the room and they're sitting waiting for me. it's really cute."

But last year this involved instructor reluctantly put down her paintbrush.

She left after CareOne, the largest assisted living provider in New Jersey- stopped paying her.

"I felt like I was being used," La Placa said. "That's a horrible feeling."

Donna says she sent CareOne a bunch of invoices and emails, and she even sent over a certified letter begging for payment.

She was owed a total of $2,245 for 11 classes at $165 a piece dating all the way back to April of last year.

No one answered her certified mail or returned her phone calls. When La Placa did get a hold of someone they always provided the same answer.

"We're looking into it," La Placa said. "It's really hard, I can't pay my bills."

Bills including the cost of expensive painting supplies like canvasses, and paints. La Placa provides her senior students with the tools they need to be successful artists.

La Placa said a lot of vendors who work with CareOne are quitting.

Eyewitness News was also contacted by three other present and ex-employees who didn't want to go on camera, but said they're owed thousands a piece with invoices dating as far back as last summer.

Nina Pineda and the 7 On Your Side team reached out to CareOne and within hours of the call, La Placa got a check for full payment of more than $2,000.

"Oh my gosh hand delivered the same day," La Placa said.

The team was also able to help three other vendors get paid another $8,000.

"I got goosebumps," La Placa said. "I was like OMG I got paid."

She's now fully booked at other assisted living homes sharing her gift.

CareOne added they are currently streamlining payment processes to ensure timely payment and avoid any future incidents in Cresskill.

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