Friday, June 24, 2011

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans - Crime in progress, part 4

The Smoking Tent.

I don't care what folks in general think of people who smoke. Whether or not smoking is good for you is not the point here. The issue here is Fairness and health care providers neglect because they disagree with another persons choice of living.

In 2010 Michigan passed a non smoking ban for all public areas, but made exceptions for places like nursing homes and some bars, and other places. They forgot to make an exception for the Veterans home.

The winter of 2010-2011 was filled with Veterans from all age groups, having to go outside to have their tobacco. The old guys in power chairs, the guys who were in wheel chairs, the guys who could hardly walk, all had to go out side and Freeze. Some of these people have smoked all their lives and could not quit if they wanted to.

So volunteers were called to put up a smoking shelter. One was proposed, including heat, for the Pavilion outside Kozy Corners. In December, Someone came and put up the walls. The walls were made up of awning type canvas, with one side of the tent containing clear plastic windows. 2 doors, of hanging thick plastic ribbons were put in, one at each end. And the whole thing was designed to be rolled up in the summer.
Inside the tent, the average temperature was about 5 degrees warmer than the outside air.

In April, the heaters were installed. They remained off thru out the remaining winter, due to the fact no gas was hooked up to them. The volunteers who donated them and put them in, said they had been sitting on their dock for 2 months and that they were waiting for a call to come and put them in. To this day, they still are not certified to be used, but they are hooked up to the natural gas line.

The only reason the shelter got put up in the first place, is because a State of Michigan congressperson came and asked where it was. Finding out that it wasn't even built yet, he got very angry because his office was told that it had been constructed and was up and that we were using it.

58 Veterans died of pneumonia related illnesses between January and March of 2011. Of those, 56 were known smokers. They got sick having to go outside with no heat.

I remind the reader, the gas heaters are STILL NOT CERTIFIED by the Gas company as being safe to use - and its mid summer now. When are they going to be certified, maybe next spring?

I blame the delays and lack of progress directly on the Administration of Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, currently under the temporary direction of one Sara Dunn.

GRH4V as its called, doesn't even have an acting commandant. And now the new Michigan Republican governor wants to privatize its operations.

I personally think some of the staff need to be held accountable for the premature deaths of those veterans, due to their having no warm place to go to have their tobacco.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans - crime in progress, part 3.

Next lets look at the volunteers. This place is driving away volunteers, and as the result, taking away activities from Veterans. Case in point - The coffee episode that is still effecting veterans.

You see, some of the people here need special diets. Some need thickening agents added to their coffee so that they can swallow it properly. Due to this fact, each member has an ID card with a colored stripe on it. Green means they can eat anything. Blue or Red means they have restrictions. Well, one of the volunteers in Kozy Corners gave regular coffee to someone who had a restriction and as such they choked.

Because of that, all volunteers had to sign a paper saying they would check all ID cards before giving anything to any member.

At Bingo,(which is put on by outside volunteer groups such as VFW, American Legion, various church groups, schools, or whom ever wants to donate the funds to put on a bingo game), volunteers would bring treats for the members. Coffee, Juice, donuts, pizza, pretzels or chips or small candies. And after the coffee incident they had to check ID's. But some BellView genius,(BellView is the insane asylum in NYC),in the administration here, decided not to allow the bingo volunteers to give us anything because "We cannot afford to pay a staff member to be present to ensure ID's are being checked." was their excuse for taking away our treats. Bull crud.

Also, Kozy corners is no longer serving coffee after 6pm, or on weekends.

Also as a result of this Coffee incident, all coffee places on the various wards had to be locked up, with coded locks on the doors, with members being given the code only if they had a green stripe. The problem with this is many members do not close the locked doors, leaving them open. So members who cannot get coffee on their unit, are now wandering around other units trying to get coffee without having their ID's checked. So far 3 have choked because they could not get the right coffee. And 4 members got lost going to other units that they were not aware of. Many have been caught on other units, only to "claim they were confused" as they tried to get into locked rooms where the coffee pots were.

Volunteers have had to sign and resign agreement forms to be able to continue to be able to volunteer. Those volunteers that the administration does not like, get their paperwork lost and are threatened with arrest for trespassing if they continue to return to do volunteer work without permission.

Another volunteer, Don Kramer, was a volunteer with the purple heart association who spent a lot of time each day here at the GRH4V. He would bring vets down to the smoking area who were bed ridden and had to use special wheel chairs, and help them have their smoke. He was well liked, and was driven out of being a volunteer because he caught a staff member smoking inside the building in the winter time, when he had to bring his vets outside in the freezing cold. He reported her and politics ended up with him being forced out. The Nurse who he caught has never been disciplined for her violating the smoking law, that a member would be fined 100 dollars or more for violating. In fact several members were issued 100 dollar fines for smoking near doors in the winter time because the state law requires you to be 50 feet from a door, federal law 25 feet, and they were within 10 feet while trying to stay warm. Yet that nurse was never issued any such citations even though security had proof of her smoking inside the building.

Don is just one of over 15 known volunteers that have left because of the administration of this place. And countless others are refusing to return.

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans - crime in progress, part 2.

Part 2, The Crimes.

Let us start with the clothing room. When I first arrived here it was open every day.
Now it is open 2 afternoons a week. A Fellow named John and his mother ran the room. Both are volunteers that do not get paid. John's mom had it opened 6 days a week. One day she came to work and found they had changed the locks. The staff told everyone that John and his mom quit. The fact is they got fired without being fired.

Since then various members have photographed and documented workers taking clothing that was meant for members. New jackets, and other things that were specifically donated for the members, ended up being worn by the staff.

The lady running it, is a good friend of Sara Dunn, then acting commandant, who was later denied the job. Sara Dunn was acting commandant when the real one, who was a vet, went on medical leave just before I arrived.

Also, Sara Dunn wasted a HUGE amount of money, some say around 8 thousand dollars, redecorating the commandant's office, thinking she was going to get the job.

Next let's go to to smoking tent. This is a sore spot in all the veterans. You see many of them have smoked all their lives. The military even promoted it until recent years. But now, Michigan passed a law about smoking in public buildings - but made an exception to nursing homes. All that is, except this one. This is home to these guys and gals, but they have no exemption.

When I arrived, there was at least 1 smoking room set up on every unit. Each room had special exhaust fans to suck out the smoke, and members kept them clean. These were taken away when Michigan passed its law. It forced the members to have to go outside - even in winter. So a Plea for help was sent out and people responded. A special smoking tent would be set up on the outside pavilion, near kozy corners, complete with heat for the winter time. The project was supposed to be done in August of 2010.

In December of 2010, a congressional representative came by and said, where is it? That his office was told that the project was done. When he saw that the walls were not even up, crap hit the fan and within 3 days, volunteers were putting up the tent walls on temporary polls that could be removed in summer time. The tent part rolled up and tied up on the ceiling of the pavilion, out of the way. Great. But no heat.
Now, the members had to come out side, thru a double sliding door, and navigate thru about 3 feet of slick sidewalk due to icing, and then another 15 feet to the smoking tent. No heat was inside, but several benches were available. The walls kept the wind down, but it was still an average of only 5 degrees difference inside the tent.
The tent had vents at the top and 2 doors with thick hanging plastic for the doors. Kind of like what you see in grocery store freezer warehouse. Come February and minus 10 degree days and still no heat. Come March and they put the heaters in, only because people were complaining. Come to find out the volunteer who bought and installed the heaters told us that they had been sitting on his dock for 2 months, waiting for GRH4V to call him to come and install them. In other words since December.

So they came and installed them in March. To this day they still have not fired them up and they are still not certified as being usable. It is now June. As far as the members are concerned, this project is unfinished.

We lost over 48 veterans due to pneumonia related illnesses this last winter, mainly due to the fact they had to go outside to have their smokes, with no warm place to go. The project should have been done before the first snow fall. Several were pulled out of snow banks and one man fell near the double doors that lead to the pavilion area and layed there in his PJ's, without any warmth for 5 min's when he fell off his wheel chair and lost his blankets, when he slipped on the ice that was known to form outside that door. You see members are not allowed to assist others who fall down. We have to get nursing staff. And they took too long to get there. We gave him blankets but he was still laying directly on the ice.

This project would have been done if the administration bothered to make sure it was done before winter, but because they don't smoke, they don't care.

Part 3, more crimes next.

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans - crime in progress part 1..

Part 1 The basics.

For those who do not know, the state of Michigan runs 2 homes for veterans. One is located in the Upper Peninsula the other in Grand Rapids Michigan. I am going to write about the one located in Grand Rapids, or GR for short. The home is called GRH4V for short. It is run by the State of Michigan, on Michigan land, funded with Federal dollars, thru the Veterans Administration and Social Security administrations, and private funding from members own retirement plans - if they have any.

First of all the name is misleading. While it may be home to some, The way it is operated makes it clear that it is definitely not FOR the veterans.

Due to the economy, my past job, and my health, I found myself with no place to live, so I was told I qualified to come here. I applied and was accepted. I have No income so to say, because when you come here, you give up your claims of Unemployment or any other government assistance - so they tell you.

Now I have been here for just over a year, and I tell you folks, this place is a criminal enterprise in action. They are defrauding the public (tax dollars) and the veterans. Cronyism is well documented here by the members (the vets are called members).

The Complex has 4 main buildings, with ruffly 750 people living here. Mann, McCleash, Main, and Rankin buildings. Rankin is where the "non income" people go. Those without any insurance or retirement or pensions.

Rankin has 3 wards, Rankin 1 is separate, on the first floor, and Rankin 2 and 3 act as one unit. These are the Temporary people who are here for the most part, while they heal up from medical issues and wait for paperwork to be processed to get Disability status from the Service or Social Security. Most move out after a few years, but a small bunch are there until they die, due to court orders. The Rankin building is the oldest in the complex, and needs updating badly. Its air recirculation system is described by members as a health hazard.

The cost of living in Rankin 2 and 3 is the cheapest of all the wards and buildings. $2,300 for a 8x10 living area where your bed, dresser and small table is, a 3x3x12 foot closet space, 4 men to a room, with shared toilet and sink for each room. The showers are 4 common showers in a separate room. They try to keep the rooms to 2 men, but many have 3 in the winter time. Other wards can cost up to $8,000 a month, depending on their level of nursing care.

The complex has a chapel, a common day room called Kozy Corners that gets locked up at 9pm and opens at 6am, an outside covered pavilion capable of seating 300 people, an APR (all purpose room) where bingo and movies are shown, 2 lane bowling alley in the basement, Ceramics, wood shop, bike repair shop, outside nature trail, Common dining room for those who can use it, A limited library, limited movie library, but no swimming pool. Bingo is played in the APR room, just to name a few things.

They have a clothing room located in another building, where donated clothing is free to members.

Part 2, the crimes, next posting.