Veterans Homes Admissions Suspended - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: Veterans Home

Veterans Homes Admissions Suspended

Andrea Turner Andrea Turner
Sen. Mark Norris Sen. Mark Norris
(Story created: 6/19/07)

Gov. Phil Bredesen instructed the state's veterans homes to discontinue admitting new patients in the wake of an investigation into operations at the Tennessee Veterans Home in Murfreesboro.

A NewsChannel 5 investigation first exposed problems with patient care at the 140-bed nursing home.  

Now, state investigators have found even more problems at that facility.

NewsChannel 5 investigative reporter Jennifer Kraus has been on this story since the beginning.

The latest problems are so serious that the state says patients' lives are in danger.

The Tennessee Department of Health report provides detail about the critical problems state inspectors found when they went into the nursing home last week.

Now, the state has told the Tennessee State Veterans Home it cannot take any new patients until all of these problems have been corrected.

State inspectors said 10 different problem areas they observed at the facility put patients in immediate jeopardy.

"Either the patients' lives were in danger or they're potentially in danger," said Andrea Turner, a health department spokeswoman.

Inspectors went in after someone complained about conditions at the Murfreesboro facility.

According to their report, inspectors found that there had been numerous altercations between residents and that the nursing home staff did nothing to prevent them or keep them from happening again.

"It's very serious," Turner said.

The state health department said what's so alarming is that this is the second time in a year that regulators have found such disturbing conditions here.

This is something that doesn't happen very often in the nursing home industry.

"It's fairly unusual to see the number of deficiencies, specifically especially the number of immediate jeopardy within such a short time frame," Turner said.

These problems follow a NewsChannel 5 investigation in 2006 that first exposed problems with patient care.

"It's intolerable and it needs to stop, yesterday," said state Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville. "It needs to stop a year ago yesterday.

Norris has been pushing for change ever since.

He said nursing home administrators have repeatedly assured him that the problems were being addressed, but he said that obviously isn't the case.

He said he's encouraged that Bredesen has called for a system-wide review of all of the state veterans homes, including the facilities in Humboldt and Knoxville.

"It shouldn't take this long but at least now there are more people, we have a broader spectrum of people including the administration who realize that indeed there is a serious problem that needs to be fixed," Norris said.

In addition to the fights between patients, this report also talks about the problems inspectors found with the basic care of patients and their quality of life.

The staff and administration at the Murfreesboro facility now have 10 days to come up with a plan to show the state how they will fix these problems.

While technically patient admissions could resume after the state approves the facility's plan, the governor has said that he does not want any of the veterans homes to take any new veterans until they've finished their own review.

Bredesen wants to know if there's something wrong within the system that causes these problems to keep happening repeatedly.

Because of these latest violations, not only is the Tennessee State Veterans Home barred from accepting new patients, but the facility also faces a state fine of $3,000 and federal fines of $6,500 a day until the problems are corrected.

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