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VOL. 35 | NO. 45 | Friday, November 11, 2011




State bars new admissions to rehab center in Burns

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NASHVILLE (AP) - State mental health officials have suspended all new admissions to a drug addiction treatment center in Dickson County after an investigation raised questions about medical care there.

The decision by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health freezes patient admissions for at least 120 days at New Life Lodge, which is the largest residential drug treatment facility in the state.

The center in Burns has laid off more than 100 employees as the result of the state's action, according to The Tennessean, which quoted a senior company official (http://tnne.ws/sQIePx).

Mental Health Commissioner Douglas Varney said in a recent letter to the facility that it failed to report "all critical incidents" to state regulators and did not maintain proper medical records.

According to the letter, the department's review of New Life "indicates a failure to consistently provide appropriate medical services and testing to ensure ap propriate care for its service recipients."

However, New Life Lodge Regional Administrator Randal Lea said the decision was a serious error and that the letter the company received from Varney contained "vague and unfounded" claims.

"We stand by the quality of care we provide at New Life Lodge, and when the facts are revealed this will be abundantly clear," Lea said in a prepared statement. "The Department of Mental Health has never given us any indication of serious deficiencies or that our license was in jeopardy. They visited our facility in August, we followed up and made some changes, and as far as we knew we were in good shape."

Mental Health is the latest state agency to take action against New Life, which last year had two patients die during their treatment. The Department of Children's Services and three TennCare insurance contractors have already stopped sending patients to the facility.

A department spokesman said 16 patents remain at New L ife, which has a capacity of 228 patients.

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