Health Dept. Won't Release Inspection Report Citing State Law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It's a stunning report that raises new questions about the care provided at Autumn Hills. It says residents' lives were in danger because of conditions at the assisted living facility. But amazingly, this report has never been shared with the residents, their families, or the public.

But NewsChannel 5 Investigates was able to get a copy of it and offers this first look at what state health inspectors found.

The inspection was done back in September, just a week after we first exposed serious financial problems at Autumn Hills and a time when others were starting to question what was going on at the facility.  But that was more than four months ago and now some are wondering why they didn't hear about this before now.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Barbara Gleaves, "Do you think the public should know about this (the inspection report)?"

She emphatically replied, "Absolutely! Why not?"

She and her husband, Freddie, had regularly visited his uncle, at Autumn Hills. They were shocked to learn about the report that describes what the state found during a surprise inspection at Autumn Hills last September. The state Health Department said it found "serious violations" that put "the health, safety, and welfare of residents" in danger.

"Does this confirm what you thought was going on?" we asked the Gleaves.

"Yes, ma'am. Yes, 100 percent," they responded.

The Gleaves say Freddie's 92 year old uncle, James, lived at the facility until he died last month. "Uncle Jim," as he was known, moved in back in 2002 when Metro ran the place.  When Autumn Hills took over three years ago, they say, things went rapidly downhill.

"The food got terrible. Really really bad. The maintenance was horrible. They weren't cleaning the rooms. And my biggest concern and my husband's biggest concern was that you would go there at night and there was no techs at all," Barbara Gleaves described.

And the September 27th inspection found many of the same things. There was not enough staff to care for all of the residents. Some reported getting medications late or getting the wrong medicine. The person in charge of feeding everyone did not have the necessary training or experience. Residents failed to get quality food they could eat. And, fans in the kitchen's cooler were covered in dust that blew down onto the food while the ice machine had both "rust" and "dirt."

"To see this here that we knew was going on but not this much, it's speechless," Freddie Gleaves shared.

Yet, just two weeks after this inspection, those in charge at Autumn Hills were insisting everything was fine.

On October 7th, Sam Latham, a member of the Autumn Hills management team, told the city's Industrial Development Board, "There's not an issue with resident care."

Latham did share with the board that state inspectors had just been out at the facility, but he failed to mention any of the serious violations.

"Everybody's said the resident care was excellent. Was good," Latham reported.

The Mayor's Office told NewsChannel 5 Investigates recently they were unaware of the serious problems.
     The mayor's Chief Operating Officer, Rich Riebling, explained, "We were wrongfully perhaps under the impression that things were running okay."

And, Mayor Megan Barry added, "We were relying upon the state to give us that feedback."

Mayor Barry said the health department never shared this information with the city. It turns out, they only learned about the inspection a couple of weeks ago from administrators at Autumn Hills.

It turns out, the state health department has never shared this information with anyone. They, in fact, refused to talk about the case with us. And they said it was because, even now, more than 4 months after that inspection, their investigation and follow up work wasn't finished yet so under state law, that means none of this was public information.

Barbara Gleaves reacted, "I don't think it's fair to the families. I don't think it's fair to the residents to hold this information and not let anyone know about it. What kind of nonsense is that?"

The Gleaves said they tried to get Uncle Jim to move, but he didn't want to leave. But had they known about the inspection and what it found, they said they probably would have pushed harder to get him out of Autumn Hills.

"Nobody deserves this," Freddie Gleaves concluded.

Late Wednesday night, a state health board approved an agreement with Autumn Hills. In it, the facility admitted to some of the problems found during the inspection and agreed to pay $2,500 in fines.  But because Autumn Hills agreed not to fight the case, the more detailed inspection report will never be made public.

We should remind you that Autumn Hills does have new managers. Just last week, Metro announced that it had replaced the previous management company in part because of concerns about residents' care as well as unresolved financial issues.

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