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NBC News Investigation: Elderly Patients “Pay the Price” as Nursing Home Chain “Grows Too Fast”

Skyline Healthcare, a national nursing home chain, is the subject of a new investigation conducted by NBC News. At one point, Skyline operated nursing homes across the country, more than 100 facilities in 11 states, including Tennessee. However, in the last few years, several have shut down entirely amid allegations of abuse and patient neglect.

Joseph Schwartz of Brooklyn, New York, started Skyline after selling an insurance business. He continued to purchase nursing home facilities and expand into new states. Over the years, many of his properties faced accusations of neglect, uncleanliness, under staffing, and failing to properly monitor residents. Skyline properties have faced issues across the country, from Massachusetts to Arkansas to South Dakota.

One Skyline property forced to close was in Memphis, Tennessee – Ashton Place. Skyline took over the facility in September 2017, and by November 2017, a resident with an amputated leg was taken to a local emergency room. Upon admission, nurses noted he had been lying in feces and found maggots and gangrene in his leg. The resident passed away two days later, prompting a police investigation. Staff admitted that Skyline ownership directed them to move from electronic record keeping to paper record keeping. Poor record keeping was a red flag to investigators.

The NBC News investigation asked how a nursing home chain could get so big and get away with mistreating residents. The story noted how many nursing home and long term care facilities are funded by public tax dollars and government benefits like Medicare and Medicaid, benefits of which millions of Americans receive each year. However, when a nursing home or long term care facility accepts federal funds, they must agree to abide by CMS guidelines and follow applicable industry standards. CMS also has the right to conduct inspections of these facilities.

In addition to CMS regulations, nursing homes in Tennessee must follow licensing standards set forth by the Tennessee legislature. For example, a nursing home Administrator must possess a license granted by the Board. He or she must also have “acceptable management experience” in the field before being able to obtain such a position. The license must be properly renewed when necessary, under the law, and there are continuing education requirements. Nursing homes must also conduct sufficient background checks on new hires who provide care to patients.

If you suspect a loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home, speak up. You can alert the proper authorities by calling 911 or calling the Tennessee Adult Protective Services hotline at 1-888-277-8366. State and federal regulators may step in to investigate allegations of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Tennessee defines abuse as “more extreme forms of harm to the adult, including the infliction of pain, injury, mental anguish, unreasonable confinement, or other cruel treatment.” Neglect takes place “when the basic needs of the adult are not met by a caregiver” and can be intentional or unintentional.

While state or federal investigators can examine the facilities operations and take action (including administering fines or shutting down the home), the injured resident may be able to pursue legal action for damages through a civil claim. For a free consultation with a nursing home abuse lawyer in Tennessee, call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 800-529-4004 or complete our online form. Our nursing home team has the resources to consult with expert witnesses qualified in the nursing home and skilled care industry, which is important because Tennessee law requires expert witnesses to certify that these cases are being brought in good faith. Our personal injury lawyers serve people injured throughout Tennessee, including Memphis, Knoxville, Jackson, Nashville, Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, and areas in between.