The U.S. Attorney's office is accusing Vanguard HealthCare of failing to take care of the elderly patients at six of the company's nursing homes in Tennessee.
The federal lawsuit that was filed today gives a look at life inside these nursing homes, according to the Department of Justice.
It uses strong language to describes in detail how patients were allegedly cared for, or rather not cared for at Vanguard's nursing homes, most right here in middle Tennessee.
It doesn't get much stronger than this. According to the US Attorney, Vanguard Healthcare provided "non-existent, grossly substandard and/or worthless nursing home services" to patients at six of the company's facilities, five of them here in Middle Tennessee, including Boulevard Terrace in Murfreesboro, Crestview Health in Nashville, Glen Oaks Health in Shelbyville, and Manchester Health in Manchester. Also named in the federal lawsuit, the former Imperial Gardens in Madison which is now closed.
The 60 page lawsuit accuses Vanguard of filing false or fraudulent claims with TennCare and the federal Medicare program for billing the government to take care of patients from 2010 to 2015.
But federal prosecutors allege the nursing homes failed to provide basic care. They say the facilities had chronic staffing shortages and shortages of critical medical supplies and failed to provide skilled nursing services, failed to manage patients' pain, failed to prevent falls, and failed to provide wound care. They also used unnecessary restraints and gave patients too much, too little and sometimes the wrong medication.
The lawsuit also talks about patients remaining in soiled beds without bathing for long periods of time.
As NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered, these problems had all first been brought to light by state health inspectors who made repeated visits to these nursing homes over the last five years, often investigating complaints.
As prosecutors point out in their lawsuit, Vanguard Healthcare was "aware of the problems and the resulting adverse health effects on residents but recklessly disregarded them, were deliberately ignorant of them, and ultimately, failed to resolve these problems, or to do so in a timely fashion."
The US attorney alleges Vanguard was "focused on high patient counts rather than delivering quality care."
Vanguard Healthcare said in a statement today the claims in the suit "are without merit" and the company is committed to the consistent delivery of high-quality care.
The US Attorney doesn't ask for a specific dollar amount in the suit, but says Tennessee and the federal government suffered millions of dollars in damage.