Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Two Groups fighting for control of Michigan Veterans home?

According to the mission statement of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans:

 Our Mission: Provide compassionate quality interdisciplinary care for the members to achieve their highest potential of of independence, self worth, wellness and dignity.

Our Vision: Provide an environment that promotes meaningful quality of life by being a center of excellence in long term care.

Our Values: Strive to exceed our customer's expectations. Treat everyone with compassion, dignity, and respect. Each member, family, significant other, and staff services are valued as important resources. Recognize and honor all service to our country by the military, veterans, and individuals.

Really? Sorry People, but in my case, the Mission Failed. The Vision is not happening the way its posted here, and many veterans will say the quality of life has diminished in the last 36 months. But the long term care is as good as you can get it just about anywhere. And the Values statement is just a dream - reality shows things are different. 

In the time I spent at the home, one of the biggest concerns of the veterans was that they had no voice at the home. No one to speak for them. No one to act on their behalf. Someone in Michigan Department of Veterans affairs appointed one man to be an ombudsman, but this guy was and is, also a member of the board of managers. So how he can be both an advocate for the veterans and a member of the board without creating a conflict of interest, is beyond all common sense.

During the spring of 2010, the then Administrator Frank Snarski,  had to take medical leave. Then he decided to retire. According to rumor control the state had 6 months to find another replacement. Instead they temporarily promoted the head of kitchens (Sara Dunne) to the position of Administrator, and let her stay there for 2 years, until she obtained her college degree that made her eligible for the job.

It is said that the state posted the job, as required by law, and that over 100 applicants applied.
According to our contact in one congressman's office, 3 people OTHER than Sara Dunne were chosen as top contenders, but that some back room wrangling in Lansing, ended up with Sara keeping the job.

Since that time, a number of volunteer groups have either left or been forced out of the home. These were people who made the quality of life a good one, and made living there enjoyable. Without those people, the home is becoming worse than a prison, as the members have nothing to do but watch the clock and wait to die;  - that is if you are in a nursing unit. If you are in the Dorm unit, but have no resources, its like being in prison. You have no money to do anything with, and cannot go anywhere. It makes it difficult to work your way back into society.

With the understanding that the State of Michigan is suffering severed budget crisis due to loss of revenue from the severe hemorrhaging of jobs and people that left Michigan under the last 2 State Administrations, budget cuts were going to have to be imposed, and that any budget cut would have some kind of an effect on every veteran at the facility. But that change does not necessarily have to be a negative one.

It is a fact, that the current administration could be doing a better job overall, but they are following the existing laws, and recently passed a State Congressional ordered audit.  However running a HOME for people is more than just counting the beans so to say.

Some people say a political machine is running the place. Others say Governor Rick Snyder is publicly saying hes for veterans, while at the same time in private says he would rather see the place shut down  completely.   Which is the truth?

3 different congressional representatives (or their staff members) have told me that they supported someone other than the current administrator to take over as permanent Administrator of the home.

Volunteer groups, also seem to indicate by their comments and actions, that there is a struggle for who is to run the veterans home. A number of groups who have left the home, have stated that they would not return unless and until the current administration (under Sara Dunne) is replaced. Is this being said because of personal feelings towards the Administrator, or because of policy's imposed on them by the current administration? 

With no oversight boards in place, other than the board of managers, it is difficult to say if the volunteer groups have a grudge, or if their decisions not to participate at the home are for legitimate reasons due to poor administrating.

It is said that the group called Veterans of Foreign wars, or VFW and friends, are  the ones currently running all volunteer activities, and they are preventing some of the other service related organizations from coming in and helping the veterans.

Perhaps a call for a congressional meeting of the heads of those groups to discuss this issue, is needed. Members of the Legislature can meet with heads of the various groups in one big get together and find out the truth as to why so many groups are no longer volunteering at the home.  This might shed some light on what is really going on at the home.

Also, I think the Legislature needs to hear from some of the veterans. Not vets hand chosen by the Administration to go and talk to the congresspeople, but veterans who volunteer to go forth and be questioned by members of the state congress  or veterans chosen by members of congress itself.
Members from both Nursing and Dormitory groups.

Lets face it folks. When the board of managers doesn't even know an entire floor containing 2 units is being shut down, (as reported by Wood TV, and other news sources), that has to tell you something about the lack of professionalism, communications and balanced structure to the running of the home.

As it is, it seems there are 2, different fights for control of the home going on.
One is in the legislature, over who will be the permanent top administrator, and the other group fighting is about who is running the volunteers.

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