Audit Rips Veterans Homes Management - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: Veterans Home

Audit Rips Veterans Homes Management

Debbie Compton Debbie Compton
Karla Lawson Karla Lawson
Rod Wolfe, former executive director Rod Wolfe, former executive director
Polly Darnall, current executive director Polly Darnall, current executive director
(Story created: 5/29/07)

For the last year, "NewsChannel 5 Investigates" has exposed the serious problems with patient care at the Tennessee State Veterans Home in Murfreesboro.

Now, it's obvious the problems run deeper than that.

A new state audit rips the state nursing home repeatedly for financial and accounting troubles.

Last summer, Karla Lawson told us how upset she was about the care her father had received at the state nursing home for veterans.

"Daddy hadn't been washed," Lawson told consumer investigator Jennifer Kraus. "He hadn't been turned. His wound dressings had not been changed."

Other families, like Debbie Compton, told us how their loved ones were neglected. Compton said of her father-in-law Charles Compton, "They starved him to death."

Now, a scathing 110-page state audit paints the facility's finances in total disarray.

The audit found more than a dozen problem areas and cited multiple instances of missing documentation, sloppy record keeping, even falsified records.

The audit also found the former executive director frequently received duplicate reimbursements and staff used nursing home credit cards for personal use.

And, in most cases, these are problems that have shown up year after year.

In fact, according to the report, accounting practices have been a problem since 1997.

And the audit points the finger squarely at former Veterans Homes executive director Rod Wolfe, a political appointee of former Gov. Don Sundquist.

Without mincing words, the audit blamed management's lack of organization, follow-through, and knowledge for the problems.

When Wolfe was fired last summer, Polly Darnall took over.

But, when we met her at the state's newest veterans home in Knoxville recently, she too seemed fuzzy on the veterans home finances.

"How much did it cost to build this?" Kraus asked about the new facility.

"You know, I can't quote you an exact price," Darnall answered. "I know it's public record, but we can get it."

"How about a ballpark figure? You don't know how much was spent?"

"A lot."

At this point, Darnall had been on the job more than seven months.

Yet, when asked about the veterans home budget, she couldn't provide us even the basic figures.

"Are you telling me you don't know the budget?" Kraus asked.

"I don't know. I don't know," Darnall responded.

"You don't know the budget?"

"I do, but I don't know. I know we're not budgeted to make a big profit."

"How much? Ballpark?"

"I can't remember. I'm truthful with you. I can't remember."

The Veterans Home is overseen by a ten-member board.

In the state audit, the board tells auditors the Board will fix the problems.

But, as the audit points out, the board has said that before.

One other note, two months ago, Polly Darnall promised to provide NewsChannel 5 with the veterans home budget and other financial figures.

She still has not given them to us, despite our repeated calls to her office.

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