Bredesen Vows To Fix Problems At Veterans Home - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: Veterans Home

Bredesen Vows To Fix Problems At Veterans Home

Gov. Phil Bredesen Gov. Phil Bredesen
Stephen Davis Stephen Davis
Veterans Affairs Commissioner John Keys Veterans Affairs Commissioner John Keys
Bill Smith Bill Smith
(Story created: 6/22/07)

Gov. Phil Bredesen told a crowd of veterans Friday that he's not happy about all of the problems at the Tennessee State Veterans Home in Murfreesboro.

Problems with patient care at the 140-bed nursing home were first uncovered in a NewsChannel 5 investigation last year.

Bredesen promised the veterans gathered at the state VFW conference in downtown Nashville that fixing the problems is now a top priority.

Veterans said they are very concerned about what's been happening at the veterans homes -- especially after this week when state regulators found nearly a dozen critical violations at the Murfreesboro facility that put patients' lives in immediate jeopardy.

"I think I could wind up in one one day," said veteran Spencer Davis.

That's why vets like Davis were relieved to hear the governor tell state VFW conference that he's determined to find out what's wrong with the home and make it right.

Earlier this week, the Tennessee Health Department told the nursing home for veterans in Murfreesboro that it could not accept any new patients after state inspectors found ten problem areas that put patients' lives in jeopardy.

The governor immediately sent in a team of doctors and nurses to evaluate the situation.

"What I tried to do this week is say, first of all, let's get the wings level -- is anybody getting bad care today," Bredesen said.

"We sent in a team of doctors. We sent in a team of nurses and they came back and said no. We're satisfied that no one is being harmed today."

Yet, this was the second time in a year state regulators have cited the Murfreesboro home.

They went in again last week after someone complained about the conditions there.

Not only did inspectors have concerns about basic patient care and quality of life issues, according to their report, they found evidence of numerous altercations between residents -- yet no proof that the nursing home staff ever did anything to prevent the fights or keep them from happening again.

But the governor said the staff did respond to the fights.

"In many cases, the proper follow up had been done. It wasn't documented," Bredesen said.

The governor said poor documentation and sloppy record-keeping are problems that can be easily fixed with more staff and better training.

Bredesen's commissioner of veterans affairs said they're also looking for ways to stop the fights.

"We'll look at having more activities for them to, so they can use up some of that energy instead of just sitting around a lot of the time," said John Keys, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs.

"You need to take care of your men," said veteran Bill Smith. "They have took care of y'all."

After hearing from the governor, veterans believe he'll make sure they're taken care of.

"He can do it. If he will. He's the man that can do it," Smith said.

"He's concerned," Davis said. "That's the main thing. And that's what we need is people that's concerned, that's going to look out for our veterans cause a lot of them can't look out for themselves that's in them homes.

Bredesen said the Murfeesboro facility will now hire more staff and do more training.

The governor said in the next few weeks, a team of doctors and nurses will also check out the state's other two veterans homes to address any problems at the Knoxville and Humboldt facilities.

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