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Inside Story: Troubled Nursing Home Owned by Regulator

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From Phil Williams:

When the state stops a nursing home from taking new patients, it's a sign of serious problems.

That's what happened last week to a nursing home in Lebanon.

But the inside story is even more interesting -- and it may say a lot about who's looking out for some of Tennessee's most vulnerable citizens.

Tennessee's Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities is supposed to look out for patients.

But what does it say when one of the members of that board is accused of neglecting the very patients she's supposed to be protecting?

Dixie Taylor Huff is a big Democratic contributor who was appointed to the board by Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Huff also owns the Quality Care Health Center in Lebanon.

But the state says that nursing home was providing anything but quality care.

It was Bredesen's health commissioner who suspended new admissions to Huff's nursing home until the problems are fixed.

But get this: if she doesn't like that decision, Huff can appeal to the state board on which she sits.

Regulators say the problems inside the nursing home put patients in "immediate jeopardy."

The staff failed to act when one resident was found to have a large blood clot in the mouth, and they didn't follow up on two patients who were showing dramatic weight loss.

And, if you take a look at the federal government's scores for the facility, it gets just one out of five stars for its staffing levels.

There have also been numerous violations of fire and safety regulations.

Ms. Huff did not return my phone call.

But the question I would have asked is: does she still belong on the state board that's supposed to be looking out for nursing home residents?

UPDATE:  In a telephone call received after the Inside Story aired, nursing home administrator Sonya Kemp said Dixie Taylor-Huff was diagnosed with lymphoma and had not been able to attend a meeting of the Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities since being appointed. 

But Kemp said that Huff has no plans to resign from the board and still anticipates being able to serve -- despite the state action against her facility. Kemp says the facility doesn't believe the problems were as severe as the state contends.  "Our hope is that her health will be restored and she will be able to serve the governor on this board."

Read the inspection report

WilsonPost.com:
Taylor-Huff reacts to state action

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