Can Michigan look forward to much the same?
Just four years since the National Healthcare Corporation (NHC) nursing home fires killed 16 residents in Nashville - and in a year when nursing home violations and admission suspensions are at an all time high - Tennessee nursing homes are seeking unprecedented legal protection from residents who are abused or neglected.
The move came two days after Governor Phil Bredesen announced he will fundamentally restructure how long-term care is handled in Tennessee by expanding alternatives to nursing homes.
State Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) and state Rep. Randy Rinks (D-Savannah) introduced the bill last week that would severely restrict the rights of nursing home victims and their families to seek justice no matter how bad the injury they suffer and no matter how bad the conduct of the home. The type of neglect and abuse recently documented in Tennessee nursing homes ranges from maggots in wounds to untreated broken bones to rape.
NHC, which reported more than $500 million in annual gross profits in 2006 and whose CEO Robert G. Adams makes more than $1.3 million a year, is one of the supporters of the legislation. NHC is the same corporation that owned the Nashville nursing home where 16 residents perished in September 2003, and that owns a nursing home in Milan, Tenn. that put residents "at risk of injury or death from a fire," according to a June 20, 2007 inspection report of the Tennessee Department of Health.
The legislation would ensure that:
- Residents would have little to no recourse against nursing homes no matter how bad the conduct of a home.
- Nursing homes can demand that residents sign arbitration agreements in order to live there, making nursing home residents the least protected class in the state.