Tuesday, September 16 2014 8:44 PM EDT2014-09-17 00:44:52 GMT
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Flat revenue streams across the state are staging a serious budget battle for the upcoming legislative session. As it stands now, the 2016 General Fund budget has a $150-200 million shortfall and noMore >>
Flat revenue streams across the state are staging a serious budget battle for the upcoming legislative session. As it stands now, the 2016 General Fund budget has a $150-200 million shortfall and no real solutions on the table. More >>
Tuesday, September 16 2014 8:42 PM EDT2014-09-17 00:42:18 GMT
President Barack Obama's strategy to combat Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria is being scrutinized in Congress, where the expanded military campaign has broad support but faces skepticism after more...More >>
American ground troops may be needed to battle Islamic State forces in the Middle East if President Barack Obama's current strategy fails, the nation's top military officer said Tuesday as Congress plunged into an...More >>
Tuesday, September 16 2014 8:28 PM EDT2014-09-17 00:28:27 GMT
Christopher Wilson (Source: Selma Police Department)
The Selma Police Department has made an arrest in reference to a case of two 13-year-old girls being sexually abused. Police say that they have arrested 39-year-old Christopher Jimmie Wilson in referenceMore >>
The Selma Police Department has made an arrest in reference to a case of two 13-year-old girls being sexually abused.More >>
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
A state committee sent a strong warning to employees of state mental institutions: if you neglect or abuse patients, you could be fired on the spot without any chance to appeal.
The state finance, ways and means committee approved an amendment to a bill that would make workers at state mental institutions who care for patients "at will" employees, instead of their current status of civil service employees.
Sen. Doug Henry, D-Nashville, introduced the amendment following an ongoing Channel 4 I-Team investigation that revealed instances of patient mistreatment and neglect at the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute.
Our investigation also found nurses accused of serious mistakes allowed to keep their jobs and only given suspensions, including a nurse who dumped a bucket of water on a mentally ill patient's head, another nurse who was found with her hands on a patient's neck and shoulders and another nurse accused of letting a patient fondle her and admitted to kissing him.
The Channel 4 I-Team also found a case of a grisly suicide, where a patient took his own life because he wasn't being monitored.
Henry said what the I-Team uncovered is proof that the state must have greater powers to fire employees who neglect or mistreat patients.
"When you talk about helpless people, and folks who have direct charge of their person, it seems to me that if they don't do right, management should be able to dismiss them on the spot," Henry said during the committee hearing
Former contract employees told the Channel 4 I-Team it's well known in the institute that if you're a state civil service employee, it's hard to get fired.
"Civil service should not be in that type of facility, because in nursing care, the patient lives are too valuable," said Derwin Powell, a former contract nurse at the institute.
After Henry learned what the Channel 4 I-Team uncovered, he called the commissioner of mental health into his office.
Henry said the commissioner wanted to fire all the employees we exposed, but couldn't because of civil service rules protecting their employment.
So Henry drafted an amendment to the bill, aiming to revamp the state's civil service rules. That amendment would make all state employees providing patient care in institutions "at will" employees, who could be fired for a single violation of neglect or mistreatment of patients.
"If someone is mistreated, and they (the employee) are in direct control of that patient, I don't have a great deal of patience with them," said Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Nashville.
Grant Lawrence, spokesman for the state department of mental health, said in a statement to the Channel 4 I-Team:
"The Tennessee Department of Mental Health supports the Administration's T.E.A.M. Act and recognizes it as an effort to recruit, retain and reward the best and brightest employees to serve Tennessee taxpayers in a customer-focused, efficient and effective way."
Henry's amendment passed and is now attached to the bill, calling for a revamp of the state's civil service rules.
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