Brookhaven Manor is the latest Tennessee nursing home to be investigated for abusing, neglecting, and mistreating their patients. Brookhaven Manor, located in Kingsport, Tennessee, is the subject of two investigations, one by the Tennessee Department of Health and another by the Sullivan County (Tennessee) District Attorney’s Office. In November 2016, the Tennessee Department of Health began investigating the nursing home after receiving many troubling complaints. The investigation explored the facility’s administration, doctors, infection control, nursing services, and resident rights. The investigation culminated in a detailed 77 page written report that specifically described the widespread abuse and neglect that took place at the facility.
For example, the department found many instances of doctors providing inadequate treatment plans for the patients’ needs, such as bedsores and other wounds. Failing to timely identify and treat a bedsore could allow that sore to progress into a more significant wound that requires more extensive and invasive treatment. Nurses also did not do a good job of identifying and cleaning wounds, causing residents to contract infections. Investigators even found that nurses would not wear appropriate clothing in rooms where patients had been isolated.
Certain patients were found sitting in their urine and feces, as staff let them sit there unchanged for hours at a time. For patients who required dialysis, the nursing home did not properly classify those patients as needing such services. According to the allegations, certain nurses were not monitoring patients’ weight, which prevented patients from receiving proper diets. One patient, in particular, gained over 75 pounds in just one month. A significant spike in weight could trigger issues with other conditions a patient has, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. On the other end of the spectrum, a sharp decline in a patient’s weight could cause problems with malnutrition.
In addition to the above-mentioned misconduct involving the home’s nurses and doctors, members of the administration were accused of wrongdoing. Management did not properly report or investigate neglect. Members of the billing and financial department were accused of failing to provide updated resident billing statements and accounting of a resident’s funds in a timely fashion. It was reported management also allowed employees to smoke on the premises, and cigarette smoke filtered into areas where patients lived and received medical care.
All reports of nursing home neglect are troubling, as these institutions are trusted with taking care of a family’s loved one, such as a relative, parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent. However, even more troubling are allegations that abusive conduct occurred for long periods of time due to a lax culture created by management. Tennessee law attempts to directly prevent long-term elder abuse from happening. The legislature created the Tennessee Adult Protection Act. This law places a clear duty on people to report any reasonable suspicion of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. This duty extends to doctors, nurses, social workers, nursing home administration, coroners, medical examiners, and home healthcare providers. If an employee is the person reporting the abuse, the duty to report can be satisfied by following corporate procedures and reporting the abuse to the person designated to receive such complaints.
If you suspect your loved one is being neglected or abused in a Tennessee nursing home, it is critical to report it to authorities as soon as possible. Law enforcement and administrative agencies across Tennessee are trained to investigate abusive behavior and take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening. Further, those who violate the Tennessee Adult Protection Act may be subject to civil liability or criminal penalties for their actions.