Blount County adult home under investigation

Whispering Pines

MARYVILLE (WATE) – An adult mental health supported living facility in Maryville has been suspended and is under investigation by several agencies.

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services says Whispering Pines on E. Broadway Avenue in Maryville is under an authorized suspension of admissions, which was made after an inspection on January 27 where a state report shows 71 deficiencies were cited at the facility.

Among the problems found at Whispering Pines were a repeat incident of bedbugs that had not been reported to the state, emergency lights and smoke detectors that were not working properly, the facility itself was dirty and in disrepair, a lack of documentation for a number of items including meals served, personnel records, and whether certain residents’ bills were being satisfied or had been given physical examinations. The report also indicated there was no evidence the residents were given any opportunity for recreational activity and prescription medications were found in an unlocked drawer.

More online: Read the full report [PDF]

On March 13, six people who were staying at the home were moved to another location by Catholic Charities and Benevolent Client Services. Neither organization is involved with Whispering Pines.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Social Security Administration and the Tennessee Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services are investigating.

WATE 6 On Your Side visited the facility and found it to be a house in a residential area. People who appeared to residents were pacing back and forth in the parking lot. Crews got a look into the dimly lit foyer and found four or five other people who appeared to live there, along with several buckets on the floor.

The news crew was not allowed into the facility and were asked to leave the property without comment from staff.

According to The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, there are several steps a facility must take to become licensed.

“A Mental Health Supportive Living Facility is a residential facility which provides room, board, and personal care services to two (2) or more individuals unrelated to the owner or operator of the facility who have been diagnosed with a mental illness by a mental health professional. Essentially, with a few exceptions, anyone with a residential home may open their home to service recipients and provide low-level mental health services within it. Local requirements vary, but usually the extent of what counties and cities require is an approval by a State Certified Fire Marshal and authorization of this service through a Use and Occupancy determination. After all local approvals are obtained, an individual may apply for licensure with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) Office of Licensure. An applicant must pass a rigorous background check, provide several personal and professional references, pay all appropriate fees, pass a life safety and environment inspection, and respond and/or fix all deficient items previously cited. Once all items have been approved, an Initial License shall be issued for up to one (1) year. An Initial License shall be converted into a Full License after passing an Annual Inspection and correcting any deficient programmatic items previously cited.”

TDMHSAS says Whispering Pines is currently licensed but under an authorized suspension of admission.

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