House Dems Demand Investigation into Quality of Care at Veterans Home
Residents, staff members allege lackluster care in home for veterans
GRAND RAPIDS — House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) and state Reps. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) and David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) are calling for an investigation into the quality of health care provided at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and requesting the state Civil Service Commission revisit its decision to allow privatization of caretaker jobs at the home. The Civil Service Commission did not take patient care into consideration when deciding the fate of our veterans’ caretakers. Following the April 2 decision, 144 jobs were privatized, and many veterans at the home have said that the quality of care has been slipping ever since.
“We make a promise to our veterans: dedicate yourselves in service to our country, and in return, we will guarantee you the best health care available,” Greimel said. “After making great sacrifices for our country — including the loss of limbs and traumatic brain injuries — we owe our veterans nothing but the best. Unfortunately, we’re hearing that we’re falling down on our end of the bargain.”
During a recent visit to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, 15 veterans and four staffers talked with the representatives about the quality of care at the home. Many spoke anonymously out of fear of retaliation. Patients relayed stories of low-quality care and high turnover among the caretaker staff, while staff members said that there are now fewer caretakers per veteran than there were before privatization. One quadriplegic veteran said he’d nearly been dropped twice by an untrained caretaker who didn’t know how to transfer him into his wheelchair.
“Our veterans have a right to expect better than this, and frankly, we should be demanding nothing but the best for them,” Brinks said. “As we approach the Fourth of July and reflect on all that has made our nation great, we’re reminded of the men and women at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans who made great sacrifices for us. It’s not acceptable to compromise on the quality of care just to save the state a dollar. Their care must come first.”
Greimel, Brinks and Dillon are demanding Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs investigate conditions at the home. They’re also calling on the Michigan Civil Service Commission to reconsider their April 2, 2013 decision allowing privatization of jobs at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, as the decision only took cost-cutting into consideration, but not the quality of care.
“After visiting with veterans at the home, it’s clear to me that we’ve taken a wrong turn and we need to correct that,” Dillon said. “We need to take a good look at the kind of care we’re offering our veterans, and we need to take steps to improve it. They’ve suffered with substandard care for three months already. We can’t wait any longer.”
Knezek, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq, urged the governor and the state to take action to help our veterans.
“When I served in the military, I saw firsthand the enormous sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform,” Knezek said. “Some came home with serious disabilities and need daily care. We must be committed to ensuring that they get the best care we can offer.”