Orange Grove officials respond to mystery death of long-time patient

Orange Grove officials respond to mystery death of long-time patient

April 21st, 2017 by Steve Johnson in Breaking News

Carrie Lee Parkey

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The full statement from Orange Grove Center posted on Facebook:

We wanted to provide you with some information that we hope will be helpful as this situation progresses.

Orange Grove Center has placed a high priority on following the procedures and protocols currently in place by all agencies and authorities governing its operations and programs, including the State of Tennessee's Department of Intellectual Development Disabilities.https://www.tn.gov/didd/ On Tuesday, April 18, 2017, upon learning about the situation involving one of the individuals served by Orange Grove, Orange Grove staff followed protocol and called 9-1-1; Adult Protective Services, and TN DIDD. As authorities responded to the call and began their investigation, Orange Grove staff complied with all requests, including those related to contacting the court-appointed conservator and the family.

The following are frequently asked questions that may be helpful to you. Orange Grove looks forward to answering questions and providing information as soon as formal investigations have concluded. Providing information prior to completion of the investigation could damage the process and protocols being applied to this situation.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. Does Orange Grove have policies and protocols in place for this type of situation and will they do an internal investigation?

While we cannot talk about detailed policies and procedures, we can share that an investigation is continuing by the Chattanooga Police Department and Tennessee Department of Intellectual Development Disabilities. We are precluded from performing internal investigations as these are handled by the State of Tennessee and responding law enforcement agencies.

2. We would like to interview Orange Grove's administrator and the supervisor in this situation.

They are anxious to speak with you as well; however, we must follow policies and protocols set for us. In addition, we've lost someone who has been a part of our daily lives since 1974. The entire Orange Grove family is in mourning and we need time to do this.

3. Tell us about Mr. Parkey.

Mr. Parkey has been a part of the Orange Grove family since 1974. He has at least one brother, with whom we have been in contact, and who we believe has been in touch with CPD. Mr. Parkey also had a court-appointed conservator who served him for many years and actively participated in his care and programming.

4. What is the typical length of an investigation in situations like this?

DIDD generally is able to conclude investigations within 30 days. We do not know how long the CPD investigation will take. Each agency/entity requiring notice of an incident may have different rules governing their investigation of incidents. Orange Grove is providing materials requested by investigators and fully cooperating with the investigations.

5. Will we be able to interview the remaining family member(s)?

This is the individual's decision that we will respect no matter what the decision is.

6. What happens next?

Like you, we will wait for the findings of the investigation to be released. At that time, we will be able to assess the situation to determine reasonable next steps. If it makes sense to do so, we will call a press conference or work with the agencies who call one to offer whatever information we may have to complement their investigations.

7. What do you want the public to know?

For more than six decades, Chattanoogans and the surrounding areas have entrusted us to care for and celebrate people with intellectual disabilities. This is a trust we take very seriously. We cannot emphasize how important it is for the community to know how much we value and care for each individual who comes through our doors on a daily basis. Orange Grove is a special place made even more so by the professionals we have serving this population. We are learning from this situation and will apply those lessons to future policies and protocols to further strengthen our offerings.

Orange Grove Center officials on Friday said they have been unable to publicly discuss the death of a longtime client at the mental health facility whose body was found Tuesday in a transport van at a group home.

The body of 60-year-old Carrie Lee Parkey was discovered by Orange Grove staff about 3 p.m. Tuesday in a van parked at the group home in the 3500 block of Lillian Court.

Parkey had been picked up by a van about 8 a.m. Tuesday to go to the facility, which he had attended regularly for many years, according to the statement Orange Grove officials posted on Facebook. But he was marked absent at the facility that morning.

"Mr. Parkey has been a part of the Orange Grove family since 1974," the statement said. Besides a brother, "Mr. Parkey also had a court-appointed conservator who served him for many years and actively participated in his care and programming," according to the statement.

There were no visible signs of trauma to Parkey's body, but because of the undetermined nature of how he died, an autopsy is being performed by the Hamilton County Medical Examiner's Office to determine the cause of death.

The Chattanooga police department is also investigating the death.

Orange Grove officials said because of the investigation, they cannot comment on the matter beyond generalities. They confirmed that the police department and the Tennessee Department of Intellectual Development Disabilities are involved.

"We are precluded from performing internal investigations as these are handled by the State of Tennessee and responding law enforcement agencies," the statement said.

Orange Grove officials said that DIDD investigations are normally completed within 30 days, but they had no estimate as to when the police department might reach a conclusion.

"[W]e will wait for the findings of the investigation to be released. At that time, we will be able to assess the situation to determine reasonable next steps," the statement said. "If it makes sense to do so, we will call a press conference or work with the agencies who call one to offer whatever information we may have to complement their investigations."

The statement emphasized that Orange Grove has a long record of caring for the mentally disabled.

"For more than six decades, Chattanoogans and the surrounding areas have entrusted us to care for and celebrate people with intellectual disabilities," Orange Grove officials said. "This is a trust we take very seriously. We cannot emphasize how important it is for the community to know how much we value and care for each individual who comes through our doors on a daily basis."

Contact staff writer Steve Johnson at 423-757-6673sjohnson@timesfreepress.com, on Twitter @stevejohnsonTFP, and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/noogahealth.