Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Warning to all Veteran residents, past and present of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

Guys: post this to the blogspot page and the Facebook page ASAP, as it is very very important. 
(ok, here it is).
22 March 2017

Warning to Veterans. Pass this info on to all Residents of the Michigan Veterans home, past and current. Especially if they are in the domiciliary unit.

It is well known that the homes administration, both present and past has some serious issues still not being addressed by the Board of Managers, the administration or anyone.

Part of this issue is the way mail is handled.

Part of this issue is the way the home handles medical billing issues, and getting the correct paperwork to the VA so the VA will cover medical bills for veterans who have VA care.

If you are a current resident or former resident, you =NEED= to check your credit history this month. Look for outstanding bills not paid. They may be listed in the section that covers collections agency reports.

As a former Dom unit member, who had VA care before I went to the home, I just found something that angers me to no end. The home itself does not pay for medical expenses. As a Non Income person, classified as a homeless veteran, I was given a place to stay at the home. “A bed” as they call it. I was never given a copy of my acceptance contract, nor do I have one to this day. I was never informed as to my responsibilities were, nor what I would be responsible for in the future, if I left the home.

We now know they claimed it cost over 5k per month to have a veteran in the Dom unit, and more for other units. However the residents get charged a percentage of that amount. What was not told to them, is that the amount they do not pay, is allowed to accumulate, and a state lien is put on them in case they ever have any future earnings or money that the state can take. NONE of us in Dom unit were told this. There are guys who now owe the state hundreds of thousands of dollars. They have been forced into remaining poor for the rest of their lives because they were not informed of this and could not make proper choices.

Also what was not told to us, is that if the home sent us out to get medical care outside the home, we would be responsible for the bills.

I just learned about that fact today, some 5 years after Sara Dunne kicked me out of the home.

Now for those of us with VA care. That means we have to notify the VA, and get approval, even under emergency conditions. But we were not told that.

The homes doctors at the Veterans Home can send a copy of the bill to the VA with a note attached that the care given by outside sources was emergency treatment, and the VA will cover it.. but the doctors that USED to work at the home refused to do so, leaving the veteran to have to pay for things out of pocket.

This is what happened to me. 1 month after a quad bypass given to me in the VA hospital in Ann Arbor, I came down with post-operative Pneumonia. And I was sent to spectrum ER. I think the VA was notified of this and paid most of the bills. But one remained unpaid. I found this out by looking at my credit report, and found an unpaid bill being reported by a collections agency from 5 years ago.

I called the agency up and found out the date – Aug 8, 2011. 30 days after my surgery. That’s when Dr. Bates sent me to the ER when I told Nurse Kathy that I had a dizzy spell standing up from my bed. And I never got a copy of ANY of the bills for that ER visit.

This is because all mail is intercepted by the home and the staff goes thru it, and is supposed to process it properly. Many times they did not.

This also explains why when a friend Jerry L broke his wrist in a fall on an icy sidewalk, the home sent him to the ER and refused to pay the bill. Since Jerry did not have VA care at the time, he probably has a bunch of unpaid medical bills on his credit history that he doesn’t even know are his responsibility. And now the home has all but erased any evidence that the accident even took place.

I consider this to be victimization of the resident veterans because we were not properly informed and this has had consequences. We were not informed of the bills, nor given a copy of them, nor were we informed we were responsible for them. How can we act on something we do not know about?

We have been damaged by the homes administration’s failure to properly process paperwork, to inform us, and to give us copies of bills and notices that we needed to be aware of. I am wondering if this is grounds for a class action lawsuit.

- Gregory M, former Rankin 3 resident.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

In Perspective, where things stand now.

In Perspective. *From my point of view.*

After years of wishy washy management at best, and being transferred from one state agency to the next, in the year 2000, Michigan elected ex Gateway CEO Rick Snyder to be Governor of Michigan. Governor Snyder created the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, and placed the Veterans homes under it. 

At the original blog page about the Grand Rapids Home For Veterans, on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 published a list of grievances that the Sara Dunne administration refused or failed to address. 

Let us look at those issues then, and now. 

1.       Lack of voice for veterans.—Veterans have no voice here to act on their behalf. – That was then. Now Veterans have a voice via the Veterans Ombudsman, Mr. Kelly Cody. We made progress on this, the most critical issue reported back in 2012. 

2.       Deterioration of quality of life for veterans due to poor management. Many organizations and people who have volunteered for years, have been driven out, kicked out, or just gave up, due to poor administration policies and lack of cooperation by the staff.  Nothing has changed here.

3.       Lack of accountability and misappropriations of donated funds and goods. We have documented several cases of donations being misplaced, re-routed, and or out right stolen, items being sent to a second hand store that never get to veterans, and numerous missing donations that never get to veterans. – While there has been some improvement in accountability for the most part, not much has changed with this concern either. 

4.       Systematic removal of veteran support organizations, and volunteers.
This practice has stopped.

 5.       Lack of any viable chain of command, nor any continuity of policy enforcement. Can anyone tell any of you who is in charge of your choice of units here? For example, who is in charge of the Dormitory unit? The Alzheimer unit? 2 Blue?  Policy established in writing is applied as they see fit, not uniformly. Even the Board of Managers claimed they did NOT know the 4th floor was being closed—AFTER it was already closed! – Again, not much has changed here, according to what residents are telling us.
6.       Systematic pillage of veterans financial assets using the guardian/conservator laws. It is becoming clear to those of us who are now on vigilance, that the home is using the states conservator/guardian laws to systematically remove all assets from a veteran, if he/she has any, once they get here and if they are an older veteran.   – We have seen some changes here, but not enough. Conservators still do what they do, when they want, with little or no oversight. Even the Congressional representatives who came to GRHFV to hold a hearing, admitted that the guardian/conservator laws is a big mess the government needs to address. And one that so far, they have not.
7.  Mail tampering, no mail system is existent, no safe guards in place.  -  Nothing has changed here.  

8.      Constructive fraud of members application contract, and monthly financial Statements.  The Member admittance application clearly says members are responsible for the monthly cost of being here. Yet Members never receive copies of their admittance contract, nor monthly financial statements.  – Again nothing has changed here.
9.       No security for veterans on the facility. Security department’s first and only contractual job, is fire watch. It is not drunk watch, or anything else. – While some security things have changed, the fact is, there is still no police presence on the grounds. But security is doing a much better job of watching what does happen on the grounds and in the units. 

10.   A Home that is not a Home, nor A Hospital by any other name.
 Nothing has changed about this yet. The place is still not considered a residence for anyone.   

11.  Theft of veterans personal property from rooms by staff. - This unfortunately still continues, and those being caught are being prosecuted now. 

 12    Kitchen and Dining, The food is a threat to the health of veterans. Meals served cold, Under cooked food, poor variety of available choices. Too many empty calories and carbohydrates. This has been an ongoing issue for over 2 years now. The food here is actually a health risk for many veterans. And we are tired of talking to the Staff who refuse to do anything about it. – Veterans who speak up about this are told to shut up or get kicked out of the home. NOTHING here has improved. 
Many veterans are afraid to speak up, out of fear of being targeted for expulsion. For many, this is the last place they have to live for they have no were else to go and so they are afraid of being kicked out for speaking out.

Added Dec 2014

13. Lack of medical records computer systems at the home, to be able to communicate and update veterans health records with the VA system, so that the records are up to date.  The VA cannot access the veterans medical records from the home and the home cannot access the VA medical records. This is causing medical care problems for Veterans. 
The new medical records system is still being worked on however this problem is being addressed and will be completed soon, as the home wishes to be Medicare Medicaid compliant, and needs this system in place and working to become qualified.

14. The home is still not wired for internet for resident’s rooms, and visitors in hallways and Public places.  There is some wireless internet, but it is for doctors and staff. The only real wireless internet for residents is still only found in Rankin Dorm unit. Public places such as the Main Entrance, Dining hall, Cozy Corners, Pavilion or APR room still do not have public access wireless internet for members and their guests.

So as you can see, not much has changed. But some things have changed.
Due to an (expected) bad VA audit, the administration was changed, and a big shake up at MVAA occurred. Some say not enough of the upper management at MVAA were removed, and there are a few that still need to be fired from that group.
We got an Ombudsman for the veterans. They now have a voice. However, the GRHFV population has been cut in half from 750+ people to about 350.  Domiciliary which was at near full capacity is now down to 25 percent capacity and still getting smaller. 

The New administration and the state spent a small fortune of taxpayer money trying to come up with solutions to solve problems. It has become clear to many watchers that despite having over 660,000 veterans in Michigan, the state does not want to have to spend state money on the care of ANY veterans. However it must, as it is a requirement of the federal social contract.

So due to the extremely bad VA Audit report, the MVAA created yet another bureaucracy to run the veterans homes calling it the Michigan Veterans health care system. It brought on a new CEO, and 6 vice presidents, 2 Daily operations officers, Got rid of most of the old administration at the GR home, and a slew of other experts to help them build a model for a future system that would be able to meet the needs of the state as far as its obligations to veterans are concerned. 

The result was the recommendation to build 5 smaller veterans units, at various locations throughout the state. Their recommendation was based on the Model of veterans homes from the state of Tennessee. They also recommended a need to create yet another government bureaucracy to run it, called an authority that we have no idea if there will be any accountability to the legislature or to taxpayers for what it does.

Also, the CEO of the new Michigan Veterans Health care System signed a 2 year contract but quit after 1 year on the job. First reported as being for family reasons a more in depth report showed the CEO quit because of encountering constant road blocks. In other words, the people who hired the CEO were preventing the CEO from doing the job they hired the CEO to do! This does not surprise me one bit as there are key players in the MVAA that I and others think are the real problem and until they are removed, we will continue to see this trend of things not getting accomplished. 

As Congressman Steve McBroom said, “show us the results, we are tired of hearing the talk”. Yet today that is all we are getting. Talk, and few if any real results. 

In the meantime, the GR location is working on dropping its current population to about 120 residents from the current 350. 

Fewer residents, mean less staff needed, fewer volunteers, fewer everything, thus saving the state money. This is probably why not much has improved as far as the day to day things for veterans, especially their meals. 

Recent Board of Manager policy changes now require that if a Nursing unit person is kicked out of the home, there has to be a place for that person to go to, where they can get the medical care they need. Domiciliary people can be kicked to the curb with or without any reason or need, with or without prior notice. That has all of those people very frightened and worried.

Many are now calling for the VA to establish a retirement home for veterans and for the VA to pull all funding from the Michigan veterans homes. 

So that is where things appear to be as of this time.