3 On Your Side uncovers patterns of problems for local nursing home, state inspectors

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MEMPHIS, Tenn.  -- A Memphis nursing home that's been in trouble before could find itself in the same spot again.

The On Your Side Investigators went to Signature Healthcare at Saint Francis, on Park Avenue in East Memphis, after getting complaints from patients' families and workers about care at the facility.

They cited numerous concerns and said state regulators had been at the nursing home for weeks, which is much longer than typically required for a survey or complaint investigation.

Signature Healthcare at Saint Francis Administrator Renee Tutor spoke with WREG.

We asked, "What can you tell us about them being on site recently?"

Tutor replied, "We did have our state annual survey and any deficiencies that were cited we are addressing and correcting."

Tutor says it could be up to two weeks before she gets the inspection report.

However, the On Your Side Investigators uncovered previous inspections that reveal serious problems at the nursing home.

Signature Healthcare at Saint Francis has a one-star overall rating, the lowest possible score, at Medicare's Nursing Home Compare site.

It was hit with 14 deficiencies during its last regular survey in August of 2013.

Signature Healthcare at Saint Francis August 2013

Inspectors cited medication errors, as well as cases where patients weren't being fed properly and even losing weight because of it.

Speaking of meals, surveyors found lots of expired food in the nursing home's kitchen, including food thickener more than five months old.

And it gets worse.

A complaint investigation from four months ago shows Signature Healthcare at Saint Francis caused "actual harm" to a patient when it failed to follow doctor's orders and provide pain medication.

After hearing from a nursing home insider, WREG asked Tutor, "We were told this patient eventually died."

She said, "I can't answer specifics right now, but I would be happy to follow up with you at a later date."

The inspection report shows the staff didn't give the patient, already under hospice care, morphine as ordered.

Documents show the patient was "moaning, grimacing and crying in pain"  and was rushed to the hospital.

Signature Healthcare at Saint Francis October 2014

"How would a patient's pain management not be handled properly," the On Your Side Investigators asked Tutor?

She replied, "I can't answer that right now without the details in front of me."

"You're aware of this though, correct?" we asked, as we held a copy of the report in front of us.

"Yes," Tutor replied.

We responded, "Because that's your signature, right there?"

Tutor affirmed.

Records show Signature Healthcare at Saint Francis corrected all of the previous deficiencies, but in 2014 alone, the nursing home had seven complaint investigations.

WREG asked, "If they've been back several times, how do you assure families who have their loved ones in your care that this is not going to keep happening.?"

Tutor says she has an open door policy and caring for patients is their priority.

"We meet with family members and if they have any concerns or questions about their loved ones care, we always are willing to talk to them about it," she said.

State health officials confirmed they conducted an extended survey at Signature Healthcare at Saint Francis, in conjunction with multiple complaint investigations.

A spokesperson says they're now in the process of writing up the deficiencies.

WREG we also discovered the nursing home was several months past the time it was supposed to have a regular survey.

The On Your Side Investigators previously uncovered how the state was breaking its own rules by going past these deadlines.

On Your Side Investigation: State Lags Behind in Nursing Home Surveys

The spokesperson says having to conduct so many complaint investigations often disrupts the regular survey schedule.

In addition, the spokesperson added the Department is still suffering from a shortage of surveyors.

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