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Former Metro Home For Aged Faces Financial Woes

Posted: 12:18 PM, Sep 20, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-20 17:36:18Z

Two years ago, Metro voted to turn over a Bordeaux assisted living facility to a private company.

But now, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has found that new company that runs the former Knowles Home for the Aged is in financial trouble.

And now they're asking for the city's help.

Tuesday morning, they will ask the Metro Industrial Development Board to issue more than $3 million in private bonds.

That money, they say, will be used to buy what's now known as the Autumn Hills Assisted Living Facility and develop the land around it.

But after seeing what we uncovered, some are saying not so fast.

"These are obvious red flags that need to be looked at," said Metro at-large councilman Jim Shulman.

That was Shulman's reaction to the overdue bills, overdrawn bank accounts and lawsuits we showed him involving the Autumn Hills Assisted Living Facility.

More than 80 seniors call it home.

But  what we uncovered raises serious questions about how the home is being run and its financial stability.

Utility bills show that both NES and the gas company have repeatedly threatened to shut off service.

This month's statement shows Autumn Hills owed NES more than $29,000 -- and that includes nearly $17,000 from past bills.

It owed Piedmont Gas nearly $11,000, including $10,000 that's past due.

And the facility was also more than $2,000 dollars behind on its Metro Water bill.

But that's not all.

Autumn Hills, we found, didn't pay its property taxes last year.

Multiple lawsuits allege the facility has failed to pay vendors. In all, more than $100,000 dollars.

According to a bill from the state, Autumn Hills had failed to pay unemployment insurance for its employees since it took over two years ago and now owes more than $30,000.

And bank records show dozens of bounced checks and charges for insufficient funds including employees' payroll checks.

In fact, sources tell NewsChannel 5 Investigates that caregivers here have had their paychecks bounce more than once.

"This concerns me because if you're not able to pay your bills that means that maybe there's a problem with the ability to take care of the patients in the facility," Shulman said.

State health inspectors, we've found, have been out to the facility at least three times in the last six months, which is unusual.

During these three visits, the facility was written up for repeated fire code violations as well as policy, employment, record keeping, maintenance and patient care violations. The last one after inspectors found multiple bottles of expired medications in the drug cart and refrigerator.

"There's too many questions with this," Shulman exclaimed.

Shulman now questions the deal Metro made back in 2014 to privatize the facility.

He wasn't on the council at the time, but under that agreement, Autumn Hills and a related real estate company would buy the facility and some 75 acres around it and then develop the land, building apartments, townhouses and homes for seniors on the property.

The two-year contract called for Autumn Hills to buy the facility by July of this year.

But that never happened.

Now the Autumn Hills development partnership is asking the Metro Industrial Development Board to issue $3.1 million in bonds to close the deal.

But in light of what we found, Shulman hopes the board will be cautious.

"Would you move forward seeing what you see here?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Shulman.

"I'd say don't do anything yet until a thorough review is made to make sure that this is, that everything's okay," he replied.

NewsChannel 5 tried all day to reach Autumn Hills for comment.

Moments before this story was to air, Autumn Hills' attorney sent a statement saying they have a contract to sell the company. Metro meanwhile still owns the building and land.

Here is the full statement from the attorney:

Fairview Housing and Healthcare Corporation (d/b/a Autumn Hills Assisted Living Facility) a Tennessee Not-For-Profit corporation has entered into a contract to purchase Autumn Assisted Living Partners, Inc. The 66,000 square foot assisted living facility in North Nashville. In June 2014 Autumn Hills entered into a contract with Metro to purchase the 100 bed assisted living facility. The facility was leased for a two year period to give the management company time to stop the economic bleeding.

The Assisted Living Facility formally known as the Knowles Home previously operated by Metro was experiencing annual operating losses over 2 Million Dollars per year. The city’s sale of the assisted living facility was part of a larger transaction that included the city leasing Bordeaux Hospital, (a 421 bed nursing home) to Signature Healthcare Corporation. The nursing Home was losing over 10 Million Dollars per year and it was just released that Signature will continue operate the nursing home for an additional 4 years with an annual subsidy of 3.5 Million Dollars per year, whereas the assisted Living facility will not receive a subsidy.

The assisted living facility provides care to 95 residents, all of which only pay a portion of the monthly charge of $2,600 per month, and there are cases where the resident pays nothing at all. It is important to note that no resident has been discharged due to nonpayment. Under the new non-profit ownership, the facility will qualify for assistance for its residents not afforded for-profit owners.

The current operators have improved the quality of the facility’s operations and general conditions. Most importantly the facility’s operational costs have been streamed-lined. Autumn Assisted Living Partners have some outstanding vendor debt that will be satisfied at closing.