DIDD patient says her nurses rarely show up to work

GREENEVILLE, TN (WJHL) – A Greeneville woman with severe health problems says nurses are not showing up to work to provide her with the approved care she needs.

As Ashley Brookshire recovers from her latest spinal surgery, one of more than 30 in her lifetime, she waits for a nurse to return to her home.

“I don’t like it,” she said.

The 34-year-old was born with spina bifida and is bedridden.

“She’s paralyzed from the chest down,” her mother Jenny Kimbrough said.

Kimbrough is effectively her nurse on duty. Her daughter receives the help of a personal assistant, but she says that PA can only do so much.

“She (needs to be repositioned) every two hours,” Kimbrough said. “She has oxygen overnight that needs to be monitored. If she needs any bowel care or anything like that during the night, then they’ll wake me up to do that.”

According to Brookshire’s individual support plan, there’s supposed to be a Medicaid-approved nurse available to help at night, but her mother says that nurse rarely shows up.

“She’s approved for 12 hours a day overnight of nursing services,” her mother said. “We have had four-and-a-half nursing shifts covered since February 3.”

According to emails, her complaints are well documented with the state and go back months, long before D&S Community Services took over the contract; back when the government expected Care Choices of Tennessee to meet the family’s needs. According to a Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities spokesperson, the agency ended its contract with Care Choices “for convenience” several months ago. However, she said she isn’t at liberty to discuss the issues surrounding that decision.

“DIDD has been working with the provider to find nursing services,” DIDD Communications Director Cara Kumari said. “It is our understanding that several nurses who were hired to staff this home quit shortly after their first shift or training. That said, we understand that D&S is trying very hard to find available nurses to staff this home…it is the expectation of this Department that supports will commence immediately after the successful hire and training of a nurse agreeing to this work assignment.”

Kumari pointed out Brookshire is still receiving all authorized services in the meantime, including personal assistance and community-based day services.

A TennCare spokesperson took things a step further.

“In this particular case, Ms. Brookshire’s provider has been diligent in their efforts to ensure services are provided, contacting nearly 20 agencies in an attempt to secure staff that will provide services for Ms. Brookshire,” Health Care Finance and Administration Deputy Director Sarah Tanksley Stockton said. “It is important to note that providers do have the ability to decide whether or not they are able and willing to serve a particular member. Refusal can be due to particular challenges in supporting the member or other factors such as family dynamics. In some circumstances it can be very challenging to secure care when a family member refuses multiple agencies or staff who are qualified to deliver care. We are working with DIDD to ensure that they are doing all they can to locate a provider who is willing to provide the covered services in Ms. Brookshire’s plan of care.”

Kimbrough says her only fault in this entire process is that she doesn’t accept substandard care for her daughter and she’s outspoken about it.

“I want to see her nursing services provided,” Kimbrough said. “She’s been approved for a reason.”

When contacted, a D&S employee told us, “We have no comment. We have nothing to say.”

D&S Executive Director Lorie Copas later emailed us, but declined to comment.

“We received your request for information, unfortunately, due to the nature of the services we provide, we are bound by privacy and confidentiality laws that prohibit us from releasing any information,” Copas said.

We also reached out to Care Choices earlier today, but have not yet heard back from Brookshire’s former provider.

Copyright WJHL 2017. All rights reserved.

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