GOODLETTSVILLE, TN (WSMV) – They thought they had done everything to protect 84-year-old Peggy Webb from COVID-19.

Webb’s family said they made sure she had a private room, along with an air purifier with a HEPA filter, at the VANCO Nursing Home on Dickerson Road.

But the family says without their permission, the nursing home moved her out of that private room.

The family says she then contracted COVID-19 and died not long after.

“If they’d never pulled her out of her room, we feel like she would have never died,” said Ronny Green, Webb’s son.

But when Green reached out to a lawyer to get answers about what happened, he said he was told that nursing homes are not untouchable, thanks to an executive order from Governor Bill Lee.

“They’re under the COVID umbrella. There’s nothing we can do,” Green said.

Lee’s executive order, signed on July 1, 2020, was designed to protect nursing homes from frivolous lawsuits.

But malpractice attorneys like Clint Kelly say it has had a chilling effect on all potential lawsuits, as the order dictates that gross negligence must be proven.

“The burden of proof to hold these health care providers accountable is virtually impossible to meet,” Kelly said.

Kelly said he routinely has to tell loved ones of COVID-19 patients that the courts would likely throw out any lawsuits.

“I tell them I’m sorry. I can’t take your case because the legislature and the governor made it almost impossible for you to get compensation,” Kelly said.

News4 Investigates reached out to Governor Lee’s office to ask if the order has had unintended consequences. Still, we did not hear back by our deadline.

News4 Investigates also reached out to American Health Communities, the parent company of Vanco, for an interview to inquire about Webb’s private room.

In a statement from a spokeswoman from AHC Vanco, our question about the private room was not addressed. But, the statement reads in part, “We value the trust our residents and their families place in us, and our entire team wants to express our deepest sympathies to this family and all families and loved ones of those affected by COVID-19 in our community and beyond.”

That email read it is the company’s policy not to comment on individual patient’s care.

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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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