Memphis nursing home under investigation for allegations of elder abuse

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis nursing home is now under investigation after a family says the Signature HealthCARE Facility on Primacy Parkway is to blame for the death of their loved one.

“Anyone that knew him knew he was a kind, gentle soul,” Monique Bethany said.

Photographs and memories of the good times are all Bethany has left of her uncle Jerome Powell.

The 74-year-old died at the hospital after being found unconscious at Signature Healthcare on Primacy Parkway, where he was a resident for just two weeks.

“He was completely emaciated,” Bethany said. “I ran my fingers through his hair; his hair was dirty, his skin was peeling. I just could not believe this was the uncle I knew.”

When Bethany got to the hospital, she said, a first responder pulled her aside and told her the way he observed Signature employees handling her uncle’s situation was alarming.

A police report said the first responder told Powell she should remove him from the nursing home facility.

“He said, ‘When I got there, she told me, “He’s about dead.” ‘He said they had no sense of urgency and apparently had been unresponsive several hours before they decided to call 911.”

According to the police report, Bethany said the ER staff also told her Powell appeared “unkept,” and his catheter had not been cleaned.

The police report said officers noticed Powell seemed thin and had trouble breathing.

Officers were also made aware by ER staff of sores on his back but said that is something they see from time to time in nursing home patients.

Memphis police are now investigating.

FOX13 reached out to Signature HealthCARE of Primacy, and they referred us to their corporate office.

A spokeswoman in the corporate office declined to comment specifically on Powell’s case but sent a statement:

“Signature HealthCARE of Primacy values the happiness, health, viability and safety of all its residents. Our residents are like family and the fight we have waged against this pandemic has been unwavering in the protection of our residents. Signature HealthCARE of Primacy deeply mourns the loss of any of its beloved residents, for any reason. It is simply devastating, and our administration works to keep an open line of communication with family and our residents’ responsible parties, as they go through this difficult time.

Secondly, It is important to recognize, allegations are just that, until the full details, and both sides of the event are learned. We ask the public, and FOX 13 to withhold judgment about any pending allegations, as they are rightfully proven and disproven with factual information.”

Bethany hopes the workers will take care of all its residents, and no one will face the same heartache her family is.

“This is the job you chose. If you don’t want that job, give it to someone else that is qualified and compassionate to get the job done right,” she said.

FOX13 checked the Tennessee Department of Health website.

It shows four federal complaints filed against Healthcare of Primacy in the last year.

While it’s not clear what those allegations claimed, all the inspections into them found the facility to be in compliance.

Signature HealthCARE offered the following statement in response to FOX13′s investigation.

Signature HealthCARE’s top priority is our residents health and well-being. Accordingly, we take the hiring and training of our staff very seriously – from the moment they walk in the door, and continually throughout their career with us. We also:

· Conduct background checks on all staff hires, as well as check them against any elder abuse charges in the national database

· Provide resident care and abuse education on an ongoing basis

· Have a 24/7 call line available for families to inquire about their loved ones care – at any time, day or night

· Make the Ombudsman/State information available to anyone to report concerns to have an external agency investigate

Our Signature HealthCARE of Primacy facility has met and continues to meet all state and federal requirements for nursing homes. In fact, Signature HealthCARE of Primacy’s score is among the top in the industry and the facility has a 3 star CMS rating and a 4 star Google rating.

We strongly encourage all of our families to contact us, at any time, with concerns they have. As mentioned above, our 24/7 call line, called the CAREline, is available to all our families from the beginning. Unfortunately, FOX 13 is reporting on families who chose to use the media, instead of continuing the lines of communication with us, which we hold as a priority in the care and relationship with our residents and families. We hope they will call and talk to us – we’d welcome the opportunity to listen.