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Nursing Home Hit With $10 Million Lawsuit

May 29, 2003 | Johnson City Press Contending his mother was neglected and abused while she was a resident of a Gray nursing home, a Sullivan County man has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the facility.

William Puckett, son of Bobbie Franklin Crowe, who died in September, is suing St. John’s Healthcare, formerly Anderson Healthcare, and Billie Anderson, the facility’s owner, in Johnson City Law Court. He alleges their deviations from recognized professional standards caused her death.

According to the suit, Crowe died from infected decubitis ulcers, or bedsores, which had become “severely infected,” and sepsis.

“The injuries that Ms. Crowe suffered resulted from chronic understaffing, the defendants’ failure to properly train its staff and the defendants’ continued failure to provide Ms. Crowe with proper care and treatment, including frequent and regular repositioning.”

Ms. Anderson declined to comment Wednesday, and company attorney Paul Sherwood could not be reached for comment.

The suit is not the only matter St. John’s, 791 Old Gray Station Road, has faced. In March, the state revoked its administrative license while it was using the Anderson name. The state alleged there was patient neglect and abuse and that inspectors were locked in a room in an effort to deny them access to the nursing home.

The state also cited St. John’s Tuesday for reportedly not having a licensed administrator.

The suit, accuses the nursing home and Ms. Anderson of violating the Tennessee Adult Protection Act and committing medical malpractice and negligence.

Large said that during many work shifts, employees could not provide food or water to Crowe and that she suffered “acute” dehydration and malnourishment while she stayed at St. John’s.

He said St. John’s staff did not detect any pressure sores on Crowe’s body when she first came to the facility. But when she was taken to the hospital some time later, several bedsores and exposed spinal bones were found, he said.

As a result, an infection spread to her blood, and she suffered septic blood poisoning, he said.

“The infection, when combined with Ms. Crowe’s weakened state due to her previous treatment for malnutrition, proximately caused her death,” Large said.

Large said that when Crowe died, her son tried to get her medical records but was rebuffed.

“SJHC engaged in a continued pattern of deceit with Ms. Crowe’s son and falsely told him, in contravention (of federal law), that he could not obtain medical records,” he said.

He also accused St. John’s of not having a medical director while Crowe was neglected and abused and trying to cover up that fact “by forgery and deceit.” The lack of a medical director “directly contributed to Ms. Crowe’s injuries and her ultimate death,” he said.

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