Daughter Says Father Neglected in State-Run Veterans Home - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: Veterans Home

Daughter Says Father Neglected in State-Run Veterans Home

Veteran David Lawson Veteran David Lawson
(Story created: 6/6/06)

FIRST ON 5: One woman here in Middle Tennessee is fighting on behalf of at least one aging veteran -- her father -- because she believes the former Marine is not getting from the state of Tennessee the kind of treatment he needs and deserves.

Each Memorial Day, we pay tribute to the men and women who have served our country and sacrificed so much.

But many of them live out their final days at the state-run Tennessee State Veterans Home in Murfreesboro.

Karla Henry's father, David Lawson, spent four years in the Marines -- and he has called the facility his home for the last 12 years.

"If any place if going to be a five out of five-star place, it should be a place for our vets," Henry tells NewsChannel 5 investigative reporter Jennifer Kraus. 

But Henry says that, in the last year, the care of her quadriplegic father has been far from stellar. On one recent Saturday afternoon, she says she was shocked when she stopped by for a visit.

"Daddy hadn't been washed," she recalls. "He hadn't been turned. His wound dressings had not been changed."

But what upsets her the most are his bedsores.

The pictures of his sores are so disturbing we are not going to show them.

But suffice it to say, these are large wounds. One had maggots in it. And at least one of them was so big, Henry says you could literally stick your hand all the way in her father's body.

"That's as bad as you can get," says a man who used to work as a nurse at the veterans home.

"If you don't change the dressing, it sits there and just rots."

But he tells Kraus that seeing what happened to David Lawson made him want to leave.

"This could have been prevented," he insists.

"How?" Kraus asks.

"By people doing what they were supposed to be doing. If you keep them turned every two hours like you're supposed to, it won't get like that."

At one time, Lawson used to stay on the nurses to make sure that they kept him turned -- so the bedsores wouldn't develop.

But in the last year or so, his daughter says he's had trouble communicating his wishes.

And the former veterans home nurse maintains it's because Lawson has been overmedicated and sedated unnecessarily.

"Keeping him drugged up all the time, he didn't know what was going on so he wouldn't tell anybody."

Rod Wolfe oversees the operation of the veterans home. Because of federal privacy laws, says he can't discuss a specific case.

But he insists that far more residents and their families are happy with the care they are receiving than are not.

"It is our goal to provide the best possible care we can," he says. "I think we do a very good job."

Yet, when federal inspectors visited the home last fall, they wrote up the facility for failing to meet the needs of its residents in 11 different areas.

"It's just heartbreaking," Karla Henry says. 

"This has been the longest home he has ever known and, at this stage in his life, he shouldn't have to move because of what they have done."

Henry says that, after what her father and all of this country's other vets have done for this nation, asking that they get the care they need and have earned isn't asking too much.

"Just the care that he deserves. I never asked for anything more. Just the care that he deserves." 

The case has now gotten the attention of state lawmakers who have called a special joint meeting for Thursday to hear more about the alleged abuse.

Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.