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Tennessee Rehab Facility Reopened After Patient Deaths

Tennessee regulators gave the state's largest drug rehabilitation facility permission to reopen, after it was shut down last fall in the wake of three patients' deaths.

The facility, New Life Lodge, is still the subject of Tennessee medical malpractice lawsuits relating to those deaths.

An investigation into the patients' deaths revealed a list of noncompliance findings more than six pages long. Among the findings were claims that the facility failed to ensure its staff was adequately trained, failed to appropriately monitor and treat patients' physical complaints and failed to employ proper procedures for reporting "significant occurrences."

After concerns about the facility were made public last year, the Tennessee Department of Children's Services refused to send children in state care to New Life Lodge. Then, three TennCare managed care providers also discontinued their relationship with the facility. All told, New Life Lodge lost more than $10 million in annual revenue from government contracts.

Eventually, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health suspended all admissions until the facilities leaders could ensure that residents would receive safe and appropriate care.

Open, but With Restrictions

New Life Lodge will be allowed to reopen, but not at its previous size.

While the facility once housed nearly 230 patients, it will now only be allowed to have a maximum of 70 beds. It may be allowed to increase its capacity to 140 patients after six months, provided everything goes well.

In addition, New Life Lodge reviewed and revised its policies and hired a new medical director, clinical director and director of nursing.

Hopefully, these changes will lead to an increased quality of care for some of Tennessee's most vulnerable patients.

Source: The Tennessean, "New Life Lodge to Reopen in April, Accept Only Adults," Nate Rau and Walter F. Roche, Jr., March 24, 2012.

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