Veterans Home Director Forced to Resign - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: Veterans Home

Veterans Home Director Forced to Resign

(Story created: 8/11/06)

FIRST ON 5: The director of Tennessee's two nursing homes for veterans has been forced to resign. This comes after inspectors found critical violations at one of the state's facilities and after a NewsChannel 5 investigation revealed serious problems at the other.

It was a hastily called telephone conference of the board that oversees Tennessee's two state veterans homes.

And it began with the chairman, Grover Poteete, making this announcement:

"Prior to our meeting, our executive director, Rod Wolfe, has submitted his resignation," he told the seven-member Tennessee State Veterans Homes Board.

But here's what Poteete didn't tell the board -- that Wolfe was forced out of his job by the governor.

"Governor Bredesen's administration asked that the board seek the resignation or removal of Mr. Wolfe due to some of the ongoing operational problems," governor's spokesman Michael Drescher told NewsChannel 5 investigative reporter Jennifer Kraus.

It was a NewsChannel 5 investigation that first exposed the problems inside the Murfreesboro home, problems that ultimately led state health inspectors to cite the facility for patient neglect.

Back in June, Wolfe told NewsChannel 5, "It is our goal to provide the best possible care we can."

He also insisted that the veterans homes did "a very good job" taking care of Tennessee's aging veterans.

And just two weeks ago, Wolfe assured state lawmakers there would be no more problems at the two state-run nursing homes.

"I will tell you we have clear policies in place designed to prevent abuse and neglect," he told a legislative committee.

But less than a week later, inspectors found more evidence of neglect, this time inside the state's veterans home in West Tennessee -- conditions that regulators said put residents' lives in immediate jeopardy.

The governor's spokesman, Michael Drescher, says, "The governor made it very clear that he's not going to allow these types of things to continue.

"The mission of these homes is to provide a safe place for our veterans and if that's not happening, we're going to see that that's addressed as soon as possible."

At Friday's sudden meeting of the Veterans Homes Board, there was no mention of the governor's involvement in Wolfe's departure.

And, when NewsChannel 5 asked when his resignation took effect, board members obviously had no idea, going back and forth for several minutes on when exactly Wolfe would leave his position.

The governor's office made it very clear to NewsChannel 5 that Wolfe was out of his job effective immediately and that as soon as possible, a new management team would be put in place.

Late Friday, in a one-sentence letter to board chair Grover Poteete, Wolfe did in fact resign, effective immediately.

But board members later told NewsChannel 5 they did not know the Governor had essentially fired Wolfe until they saw our report.

During the board meeting, members were also told how the West Tennessee nursing home plans to correct the critical problems found there.

The plans include hiring two additional nurses to dispense medication.

Administrators say they'll submit their corrective action plan to state health inspectors by Monday.

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