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State Report Confirms Group Home Neglected Disabled Man

Posted at 10:13 PM, Apr 04, 2014

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The state of Tennessee confirmed Friday that a severely disabled man was neglected by his caregivers.

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities launched an investigation late last year after NewsChannel 5 Investigates began questioning an incident that the man's family said nearly cost him his life.

The contents of the 29-page confidential report confirmed the family's worst fears about what sent their adult son to the emergency room. In it, there are new details about the people who were supposed to be caring for this man.

Because of what the report said, those people may never be allowed to care for anyone else like this again.

We now have a much clearer and shocking picture of what happened to Alanzo Blake in a group home in Murfreesboro.

The 34-year-old man was born with cerebral palsy and profound mental retardation and was supposed to be getting the round the clock care and medical attention he needed in order to survive.

But according to the just finished report by state, investigators with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities said Blake was the victim of neglect at the home run by Nashville-based Tennessee Family Solutions, a company licensed by the state to provide care for people with severe developmental disabilities.

One TFS employee told investigators that when Blake stopped eating, the couple who lived in and were hired to manage the home "attempted to feed Alanzo by forcing food into his mouth and then moving his jaws up and down." And when they realized he "was still not swallowing, they left the home ... seeming to be in a hurry to go ... to Chattanooga for a day trip."

Later that same day, Blake wound up in the hospital in the ICU with pneumonia, profound dehydration, acute renal or kidney failure and malnutrition, which his medical records said "appears to be significant." His doctor also wrote, "I do not think that he developed all these abnormalities overnight...I am wondering if there is some component of neglect here."

Attorney Parke Morris told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, "The family views it as almost a miracle that he actually survived this incident."

Morris represents Blake's family who is now suing TFS for abuse and neglect.

"There's no doubt that it took him days to get this way," Morris said.

The state's investigation found five employees responsible for the neglect for "failing to recognize and/or report symptoms of Alanzo's illness and to seek medical treatment in a timely manner."

Among them: the couple who ran the home.

The report said they were fired right after Blake was sent to the hospital. One TFS employee was quoted in the report as saying, "We realized that they were not the kind of people who should be caring for our clients… their hygiene was terrible both personally and in the home… they didn't comprehend things like other people do. I'm not sure if they had some kind of learning disability, if they didn't care enough to learn, or if they were unwilling to learn."

Tennessee Family Solutions was also cited for failing to notify state regulators about the suspected neglect which they are required to do.

They didn't report it until the day we began asking questions, more than a year and a half after the incident.

The company refused to comment or answer any questions on Friday through their lawyer, citing the pending lawsuit by Alanzo's family.

Alanzo was immediately moved to another group home when he got out of the hospital and his mom told us this afternoon, he's doing much better.

TFS now has two weeks to respond to this state's report. After they do, the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities will decide whether to take any further action against the company.

As for those five employees who were found responsible for the neglect, the department is now asking that their names be added to the state's Abuse Registry. If their names are added, they will no longer be allowed to work as caregivers.

The state refuses to give us their names, but according to the report, it appears that none of them still works for TFS.

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