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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 16, 2009
Justice Department Reaches Settlement Over Conditions at South Carolina Nursing Care Center

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced a settlement with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health regarding civil rights violations at the C.M. Tucker Jr. Nursing Care Center in Columbia, a state-owned nursing home serving approximately 360 residents, 70 of whom are veterans. The agreement requires reforms to ensure that residents are provided adequate medical, mental health and nursing care, and are protected from harm.

"We greatly appreciate the effort and cooperation of both the state and the Department of Mental Health in working with us to improve care for Tucker residents," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This agreement establishes systems to ensure that nursing home residents receive adequate services to meet their needs."

"I credit the hard work of the Civil Rights Division for the fine result in this case. That office shares our commitment to enforce the federal civil rights laws for all South Carolinians, and we will certainly continue to partner with them in future cases," said United States Attorney Walt Wilkins.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Tucker residents will receive health care services sufficient to ensure that they obtain their highest practical, physical, mental and psychosocial well-being. Specifically, the state has agreed to take measures to ensure that residents are provided adequate:

  • Medical, mental health and psychiatric care;
  • Nutrition and hydration;
  • Pain management and end-of-life care;
  • Protection from harm, including falls; and
  • Activities and psychosocial programs.

In addition, the state and the South Carolina Department of Mental Health will ensure that Tucker residents are being served in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.

The Justice Department conducted its investigation pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), which authorizes the Attorney General to investigate conditions in certain institutions owned or operated by, or on behalf of, state and local governments. CRIPA’s focus is on systemic deficiencies rather than individual, isolated problems.

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 and Mississippi. 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.

More information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, and the laws it enforces, is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt.

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