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State clears Farragut Health Care of wrongdoing


State Health Department spokesmen said Feb. 15 that a Farragut nursing home has corrected previous discrepancies in its procedures for reporting incidents affecting residents, as noted by state inspectors during a 2005 survey of the facility.

The Department’s survey followed Oct. 27, 2005, complaints, received by the state regulators, that one male resident of Farragut Health Care Center, 12823 Kingston Pike, made inappropriate sexual advances in mid-October to female nursing home residents. Lax reporting procedures, the state agency said, kept proper authorities from learning promptly of those incidents.

Sophie Moery, state Health Department communications coordinator in Nashville, confirmed that a 2005 state investigation had revealed evidence of “some sexual activity that may not have been consensual” among facility residents.

An Oct. 28 state review of medical records found no FHCC documentation that a physician had been informed of alleged sexual conduct among nursing home residents.

A subsequent state report said a male Alzheimer’s patient had exposed himself to one female resident, later fondled another’s leg and took a third into his room.

Former employees attributed delayed reporting of those incidents to under-staffing after some FHCC employees had resigned in 2005.

Investigators said: “The administrator was unaware of investigative findings regarding allegations of sexual abuse [and he] confirmed the facility had not implemented the policies and procedures related to resident-to-resident sexual activity.”

State inspectors later said that FHCC reporting procedures needed improvement; but they agreed with the facility’s management team that no resident of the facility had been physically harmed in the October incidents.

State inspectors wrote: “This facility must develop and implement written policies and procedures that prohibit mistreatment, neglect and abuse of residents.”

The state’s Nov. 1 report found, however, that “no resident has been harmed … no indications of neglect or abuse noted or observed” from the October 2005 incidents.

A correction plan required FHCC staff to “monitor residents’ behavior closely and report inappropriate behavior to the charge nurse,” a physician and interdisciplinary team.

Donna M. Eason-Pile of FHCC called allegations of low-staffing unfounded and denied residents were ever neglected. October allegations arose, she said, from ex-employees who spoke anonymously with local news media instead of voicing their concerns to FHCC’s chain of command.

Randal A. Rouse, FHCC executive director, said the nursing home wanted to respond candidly to allegations of sexual contact among residents, but residents’ privacy rights restricted any such response.

Eason-Pile agreed, saying: “We had to consider our residents first.”

Residents’ families, she said, attended facilities update meetings where questions were answered. Also attending was an independent ombudsman, a Knoxville lawyer who regularly hears nursing home complaints.

Eason-Pile said records show FHCC was well-staffed, and she denied that some center employees were required to work 16-hour shifts.

Rouse said a procedural “snag in an archaic reporting process” had existed and since has been removed “to establish accountability in ways that were lax” before. He said FHCC had provided staff members mandatory in-service procedural training Nov. 28 to address the reporting problem.

Rouse said FHCC “now has a higher level of supervision” in its 26-resident Alzheimer’s wing.

Eason-Pile called the impact of 2005 television newscasts and radio reports about the event “very trying on morale of our staff who felt they were cast in a negative light they never deserved.”

Moery said state inspectors revisited FHCC Dec. 9 to assess its progress toward improved notification procedures for charge nurses, medical staff and administrators. A February follow-up visit, Moery added, found the nursing home in compliance, having corrected earlier discrepancies.

Eason-Pile, a Farragut resident, said she’s proud of her job and the facility where she works.

“This facility is our residents’ home,” she said. “It operates under an excellent, dynamic management team and remains very much a part of the Farragut community. Our excellent staff will continue to serve our residents and their families well.”

 

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