Nursing home operator under fire for unpaid bills, 'squalid' conditions

Backlash against a Tennessee nursing home chain and its co-founders' lavish lifestyles continued to grow this week upon the closure of its facilities.

Eight facilities operated by the Hixson, TN-based New Beginnings Care LLC have closed or are slated to close by the end of March, due to what the operator has said was the loss of Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements.

But one New Beginnings facility in Ohio said it was forced to close after staff quit because they hadn't been paid, in addition to residents living in substandard conditions, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Another facility in Georgia is set to close early this month for “squalid” conditions including overflowing toilets, according to state inspectors.

In December, admissions at the New Beginnings-operated John M. Reed Health and Rehabilitation facility in Limestone, TN, were suspended following allegations of neglect that led to pressure ulcers and severe genital wounds for multiple residents.

Trent Tolbert and Debbie Jones, co-founders of the Hixson, TN-based New Beginnings Care LLC, reportedly paid themselves salaries of $432,000 and $288,000 annually, respectively, as their facilities struggled. Both Tolbert and Jones also drove company-financed Porsches, according to the Times Free Press. Neither could be reached for comment Monday.

The company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in late January, owes past-due utility bills totaling $253,474 at 13 facilities, as well as $2.8 million to Gemino Healthcare Finance for a revolving line of credit. While the company had $63 million in revenue 2015, it listed its assets as less than $50,000 by the end of the year, the Times Free Press reported.

New Beginnings will appear in bankruptcy court on Friday in an attempt to keep the seven facilities it still operates.