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Friday, January 16, 2009
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Justice Department Reaches Settlement Regarding Conditions at Two Tennessee State Veterans Homes

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced a settlement with the state of Tennessee regarding civil rights violations at the Tennessee State Veterans Homes (TSVHs) in Humboldt and Murfreesboro. The TSVHs are state-owned nursing homes, each serving approximately 140 residents, most of whom are veterans.

"Nursing home residents under the care of the state will now receive adequate services to meet their needs. It is particularly important that the state and federal governments work together to protect the health and well-being of the veterans who have served and sacrificed for our country," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "We are grateful for, and applaud, the efforts and leadership of state officials in working with the Department to improve care for TSVH residents."

The agreement, filed in U.S. District Court, is designed to ensure that the nursing home residents will be provided adequate medical and nursing care and protected from harm. During its investigation of the TSVHs, the Justice Department discovered numerous civil rights violations, including medical and nursing care that departed substantially from generally accepted professional standards, and psychiatric medication practices so deficient that they potentially contributed to the deaths of some residents. Further, staff at the veterans homes did not adequately protect residents from injuries associated with falling.

The Justice Department conducted its investigation pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), which authorizes the Attorney General to investigate and root out systemic deficiencies in care such as those found at the TSVHs, rather than focus on individual civil rights violations.

The Civil Rights Division has successfully resolved similar investigations in other nursing homes in California, Georgia, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. The Division has open investigations of nursing homes in Alabama, Minnesota, Mississippi and South Carolina. The Department of Justice’s CRIPA enforcement effort reaches beyond nursing homes, and includes psychiatric hospitals, facilities for persons with developmental disabilities, juvenile justice facilities, prisons and jails.