Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Greg M Speaks about his time at the home and ongoing legal battle with the board of Managers.

GRH4V Blogs interview with Greg M, and his legal battle with the veterans home for his right to visit his friends who are still stuck there.

Greg -"Hi Joe, Angry, thanks for doing this."

Angry -"No problem, glad we can help ya out."

Joe - "So lets talk about this. You were at the home for 2 years, right? You ended up there during the 2008 economic depression, right? "

Greg - "Yeah, after getting laid off permanently in Feb of 2008, I took a contract job down in West Virgina, that was supposed to be for a year, but ended up being 7 months at an aerospace company.  During the last 2 months there, is when what we now know was the signs of a massive heart attack, started appearing via my lower legs bloating up - edema they call it. When I returned to Michigan after 7 months down there, I stayed with my sister, while I collected unemployment. After 6 months of that, she said the only way I was going to get any real help was if I was homeless so she asked me to leave. I asked the VA clinic in G.R for help, and they sent me to the veterans home. I knew nothing about it. And sure enough I got accepted. "

Angry - "what happened after you were at the the home?"

Greg - "Well, about 8 months into it, one day while walking back to my room in Rankin 3, from morning breakfast, my heart started thumping badly just about the time I reached the elevator on Rankin 1.
  I talked to Doc Edgar the next sick call and he thought cardiac. So I was sent to the VA hospital in Ann Arbor for cardiac workup. Then they recommended a heart catheter.  I went and sure enough, I had a clear blockage that was old. Turns out what I thought was acid reflux attack in 2002 was my first heart attack. They also found 2 other near blockages and a 3rd one at 90 percent. They decided I needed bypass surgery as I was primed for a massive heart attack."

Joe - "How old were you? "

Greg - "47, to darned young for that! But it did not surprise me. A lot of guys who spent years in tool and die, ended up going that way when they retired.  I used to work 50-60 hour work weeks on night shift, and when I got laid off permanently it all came to a head. Years of working, eating and sleeping and not taking proper care of myself caught up to me."

Angry  - "So you had the surgery at the VA hospital, and then returned to the veterans home, right? "

Greg - "yep. Went in for a Triple, and came out with a Quad bypass.  They found more damage. I was in Intensive care for 12 days at the VA in Ann Arbor. I returned to the home and found my recovery there was going to be difficult. But I had no were else to go."

Joe - "How so"?

Greg - "Well, When I found out I was being discharged, (from the VA hospital) I called the Rankin 3 nurses station and talked to nurse Annette there, and notified her of my returning. She told me her shift was over at 3, and there would not be a nurse on duty after that, so if I arrived after that, to go down to Rankin 1 nursing and have them call Head Nurse on duty and let them know I was there. I did and ended up walking down to HR office to let them know. That is walking from Rankin, thru the McKlish building and about half way down to the Mann building where the HR office is. Then back. This just 13 days after surgery.
   The next day I found out the home could not give me the Hospitals recommended low fat diet, unless I got my meals on Rankin 1. I wanted nothing to do with Rankin 1. So I picked and chose my own foods to eat at the main dining hall. Which means I stayed away from the instant potatoes and all the super carbohydrates they constantly feed the guys. Many days I didn't eat a thing, as the menu was so bad and lacked choices. I mean, when a piece of cheese on bread is the main alternative for the evening meal, what kind of menu is that? Not a healthy one.
 Then there was the ongoing edema in my legs. Constantly oozing fluids because I just couldn't get rid of them from my legs, despite my walking.  Doc Edgar and I worked on this for a whole year following surgery. I still suffer from that condition to this day, however, it is slowly improving."

Angry - "how about the conditions at the home, how were they?"

Greg - "Well, considering the circumstances, they weren't great, but weren't bad either. I was in a 4 man room, with 2 of us there. My roommate W (name withheld) and I got a long pretty good. Only bad part about that was lack of room. We only had a 8 by 7 area, that was separated by curtains. We shared 2 common sinks, (one in room, one in toilet room) and a common toilet. If the room had been full 4 guys would have shared that. I had a 4 drawer dresser, with 1 lockable drawer, and I snuck in my computer desk and chair.  And I had one stand up locker, 3 feet by 3 feed by 6 feet high. Just enough room for winter clothing and a summer jacket to hang up. We weren't allowed nor supposed to use the room being used by 2 other empty beds.

  We had a member council for Rankin Dorm unit that met once a month. I like politics so I became involved. As the months went by I noticed a few things.  First the staff really wasn't listening to the concerns of the veterans. Second, the staff used the meetings to basically threaten veterans with punishment if we did or did not do specific things. And last, that the sessions became nothing but glorified bitch sessions. So many of the Dorm unit folks stopped going to them. That was bad.

    At one time they had to use a carrot on a stick to get guys to go to the meetings. In July of 2012,  the activities people planned a unit picnic - but only if you attended that months member council meeting. I think 12 showed up long enough to be counted but left the meeting early.  My Roommate W got very angry about it and told them that we veterans were NOT donkeys.

   In August before I got discharged from the home, the staff had to go get the council president out of bed, because he and the Vice president didn't even show up for that meeting! The guys just stopped going because they believed the administration didn't care about what they had to say.
   Also activities were being decreased. And so called privileges being taken away. When I first got there, there was a bingo game held in the APR (all purpose room) almost every day and twice on Saturday where the folks holding the bingo would bring in Snacks, such as Soda pop, or Juice, or coffee and donuts or pretzels, or chips, or cookies. Then that got taken away from us because of an incident involving a family member who gave a veteran the wrong kind of coffee resulting in the veteran almost choking.

  Today they are lucky to have 2 bingo's a week.

   The Number of trips outside the compound also decreased, in part due to budget cuts. Also the population of the home went from about 750 down to less than 500. Dorm unit has less than 50 the last time I counted which was early September of 2013."

Continued >

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