State Veterans Home Faces New Neglect Charges - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: Veterans Home

State Veterans Home Faces New Neglect Charges

(Story created: 8/10/06)

There are new allegations of neglect inside the state of Tennessee's nursing homes for veterans, and lawmakers are demanding that the governor do something about it.

The problems were first exposed by a NewsChannel 5 investigation. And, despite our findings, a new inspection has discovered that veterans still aren't getting the treatment they deserve.

In June, state inspectors found critical safety violations at the Tennessee State Veterans Home in Murfreesboro.

Now, the state has banned the other state-run nursing home in Humboldt from taking any new residents after inspectors found serious problems during a routine inspection last week.

The state health department says the violations it found put veterans' lives in immediate jeopardy.

It also says staff misappropriated medication that was meant patients, failed to follow doctor's orders and failed to notify doctors of changes in residents' conditions, which led to overall resident neglect.

The problems were found at the West Tennessee facility less than a week after the head of the state Veterans Homes Board promised state lawmakers they had nothing to worry about.

"Abuse and neglect is not tolerated, nor will it ever be," said Rod Wolfe of the Tennessee State Veterans Homes Board. "When problems arise they are addressed immediately."

Senator Mark Norris, R-Collierville, says he was shocked to hear of the latest problems at a state-run nursing home.

He has sent a blunt and direct letter to Gov. Phil Bredesen demanding "an immediate explanation" and "plan of action" to stop the problems, calling them "disgraceful" and "intolerable."

"We left feeling a sense of assurance that these problems would not occur again and in fact they have. I'm very concerned and ashamed for our state veterans and the state of Tennessee. I want this addressed and fixed," Norris said.

Our investigation revealed the Humboldt home has been cited four times in the last five years for putting veterans' lives in danger.

The state has now given the facility until next week to come up with a plan on how it will fix these latest problems. In the meantime, the nursing home will be fined $3,000 a day.

A third state-run facility is supposed to open in Knoxville this fall.

Sen. Norris said he's not sure that's such a good idea. If the state can't run two nursing homes, he questions if there there's any point in trying to run a third.

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