Thursday, August 28, 2014

Family of Andy Ball, allowed to sue the Veterans home.

Click here to read the Mlive news story

Family of elderly veteran beaten to death at the Home for Veterans can sue the state, court says


The Michigan Court of Claims found that while the government is immune from lawsuits when it is engaging in governmental functions, this lawsuit arises from the claim that the employees at the home were medically and otherwise negligent in caring for Ball.

Two of three Michigan Court of Appeals judges affirmed the lower court decision, but appeals Judge Joel Hoekstra dissented, saying that because the lawsuit is not about medical malpractice, but the general actions of government employees, the immunity should stand.

Blog Ed's note..

Even the General Actions of State of Michigan Government employees should be subject to possible suit, and accountability if said actions result in a death or serious damage to a Citizen.   Judge Hoekstra wants to create a total state of immunity for wrong doing government workers. And that just isn't right. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Impregnable wall of silence surrounds Michigan Veterans home while abuse continues without any oversight.

Something is wrong with the State of Michigans veterans home in Grand Rapids Michigan.

Local media refuse to publish stories on complaints made by veterans. Local police refuse to take complaints by veterans and/or family members.

State Legislatures are ordered off the facility grounds by the Administration and are refused access to talk to veterans without a staff member being present; which reminds me of the political officers of the KGB in the USSR.

State legislatures refusal to provide an independent ombudsman for veterans while people in Michigans Prisons have them.

Numerous deaths occurred at the home over the last 5 years due to a number of  situations that should be investigated as wrongful deaths.

Deaths related to veterans being forced to go outside in cold weather to have a smoke, instead of the legislature giving the home an exemption for smoking rooms for winter time; as many retirement homes have.

Deaths related to the over drugging of veterans.

Deaths related to the use of psychotic  drugs, without qualified personnel being present to over see their usage,  as required by law.

Deaths related to poor meals, and the increase of diabetes in veterans due to poor diet of high carbohydrates.

Theft of Veterans personal property by staff members as punishments, this could also be seen as abuse of the elderly.

Just to name a few charges that need to be investigated.  

Misuse of donated funds, misuse of federal funds.

Abuse of veterans by State imposed guardians or conservators.

Abuse of veterans who dare to stand up and speak out - they get targeted for reprisals from the staff and/or discharged from the home.

Volunteers who speak up are banned from the property. Workers who speak up are fired.

The systematic taking of veterans assets while at the home, by State imposed Guardians or Conservators.

For the last 5 years several groups have tried to bring these problems to the attention of the public, and our government and our police forces when justified.. All have stood and remained silent on the issue claiming they are internal issues to the home.

Yet the home exists on Federal dollars. Without the influx of that money the home would most likely  be forced to shut down, because the state of Michigan does not want to have to fund it.

The wall of silence about what is happening to veterans at that facility must be broken down.

And to make matters worse, members of VFW, AMVets, Am Legion, and other Veterans organizations, don't want to get involved.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Is Systematic Abuse by State Appointed Guardians and family court helping to cause early deaths of veterans at the Michigan Veterans Home?

If you are an adult, and you are married, who comes first? Your spouse, right?

What if you become ill and need help and go to the hospital, and the hospital administration decides you need a court appointed guardian, what then?

What if the State court just decides to revoke the  power of attorney you gave your spouse, and appoints a guardian over you, without a hearing?  Is this not due process abuse?

And what if you have been married for over 45 years to the same man, and the guardian refuses to allow you to VISIT him?!! And sells your family home forcing you into a nursing home? Is this not abuse of not only your husband veteran, but you as well?

And what if that guardian immediately files for a divorce that neither you nor your spouse wants? Would you call that abuse by the guardian?

And what if that divorce never happens, but 20,000 of your money is spent on lawyer fees? Is this not abuse of your MONEY by the Guardian?

Or what if the guardian tells the home to make you take a psychotic drug, because the guardian is tired of you as a veteran, standing up for your rights, objecting to the presence of the guardian, and the decisions they are making on your behalf, for which you feel are not the right decisions?  Is this abuse?

And during your time under this guardian, your ID is stolen 3 times, resulting in your credit history being ruined, the guardian sells your car, but cannot account for the money. Is this also abuse?

And what if someone calls your Home Mortgage company, claiming to be your wife, wanting to refinance your home, but finds out since they don't have the security code, they cannot proceed?  Is this Abuse of the person?  It is fraud, and it is a felony to misrepresent ones self as someone else in such legal matters. And it has happened more than once.

What if that Guardian instead of consulting your wife on maters, calls your Mother and Sister who both do not like your wife of 35+ years; and conspire with them for a full funeral, which you and your spouse do not want. The guardian puts a large sum of your money down as a deposit for a funeral that you don't even want. IS this Abuse? 

And instead of returning your belongings and finances to your wife, the guardian sends them to your Mother who has no legal right to them, is this not abuse (of the family by the guardian)?

What about over drugging you, or forcing you to take drugs you do not need, denying you the right to a second opinion, (from someone other than the homes medical staff), is this NOT abuse of the Veteran??

These abuses and the stress from having to endure this kind of treatment by people who are supposed to be helping you and looking out for your best interests, has terrible effects on the health of these veterans. It wears them down fast, and leads to an early grave.

These are abuses that have happened to various veterans who USED to live at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.  They are dead now.  And its still happening to many other veterans at the Home.

An investigation of how many veterans are appointed Guardians needs to be called for by members of  the US Congress.  And abuse of these veterans by the State family court, and the Guardians and/or conservators, needs to be investigated fully due to the fact that the State government won't lift a finger to help these veterans.

Local law enforcement refuses to get involved or take any complaints by veterans or their families. In stead they are referred to the State Attorney General, who represents the State in such matters, not the veterans. The veterans have no voice, no Ombudsman to speak for them.  No one. 

Karen Fugi (SP?), a counselor at the home, is one whose name keeps coming up as the person who has made the recommendations for guardianship.

The State Appointed guardian whose name keeps cropping up as letting these abuses happen is Cynthia Thornberry, (SP?) 

And the state judge who took away the spouse's rights is  State Family Court Judge David Murkowski whom himself has abused families and veterans, by doing what he calls "helping them".

Yeah right. They are helping themselves to the Veterans Money, and sending the Veteran to an early grave. That is not helping them.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Year in Review: Where is the psychiatrist and where did the money go?

From August 2013, to August 2014. Has anything changed for the better for the veterans at the Michigan Veterans home in Grand Rapids, Michigan? Seems to me based on the reports, nothing has changed and if anything, it has gotten worse for our veterans..

Aug 2013 board minutes, Jim Dunn Chief of Staff of Michigan Department of Veterans affairs reports that there are people who are constantly trying to ruin the homes reputation. Sorry Jim, but you and your poor leadership and the poor administration of the home and its residents, are the reason for the poor reputation and not much has changed in the last 12 months.

Also it may amuse you Jim Dunn, that during the last 3 years, a number of advocates for the veterans including 3 congress people, have tried to bring the issues to the attention of the media and to the public and to those who can facilitate the changes needed at the home. Most attempts have been stopped dead in their tracks by politics.

Most attempts have had little if any results. The ombudsman bill for the veterans is still sitting on someones desk in Lansing.  The winter smoking room exemption that many retirement communities have, is still sitting on yet another desk in Lansing. Veterans are still dying due to having to go out in to the cold during winter times, to have a smoke.

Our attempts to get the local media involved, have been met with a brick wall. The local media people could care less about their veterans, unless its something spectacular and they can turn it into drama or some kind of freakish spectacle. Or the news article is about brown nosing someone who just gave a huge donation to someone at the home. They never follow up to find out if the donation was used properly or not. In short the Local media has turned its backs on veterans. 

So if your reputation is being tarnished despite all that then maybe its time you ask yourself  just how screwed up are things?

August 2013 was the same month that they made a decision on the Greg M case without offering to invite Greg to the meeting where they made the decision, which was held at the Veterans home in Marquette Michigan.  Such is not a sign of good leadership.

The Psychiatric group Behavioral solutions is supposed to take up a contract for the home. To this day not one veteran that I have talked to has seen a psychiatrist or received any counseling unless they went to the VA clinic next door.. So where did the money for this program go? 

September meeting held at the home in Grand Rapids, is where Earnest Meyers chewed out Greg M for making a mistake based on his taking advice from a lawyer, despite 2 highly respected volunteers speaking up for him at the meeting. Unknown to Greg, the board already made its decision the previous month ago, without giving him an opportunity to present his case - and to this day he has not been given that opportunity..

Also, last September the home started locking the doors to the buildings at night.

The October 2013 meeting resulted in Jim Dunne reported that there were a lot of unsubstantiated allegations. I see this as proof of his willful ignorance and refusing to address the real problems of the home. Also to send a letter to Greg M informing him of their refusal to allow him on property again.. Too bad he got the letter BEFORE the meeting occurred, which serves as proof of complete denial of fair and proper due process.   - And Jim Dunn wonders why the home has a bad reputation?!!!

The December meeting says that the contract with Behavioral solutions is going well. Yet this past week  August 2nd, I talked to over 20 veterans at the home, both Dorm and Nursing units, and not one of them knew anything about this group, or what they did.

Feb 2014, The board FINALLY looks into the complaint system and how it works (or rather doesn't work).  LMAO, they report that they are getting a lot of families acknowledging the "excellent" care the home is giving veterans.. Apparently they are not listening to the veterans themselves. Other wise I would be hearing a lot of positive things, and I am looking for such things to report here. But they are hard to find.  I mean just what is the home doing to make the lives of the people who live there, a little more bearable?

April 2014, board of managers finally relents to Lawyer representing Greg M, and allows him to return to guitars for veterans. But does not address his request to be able to come on property to visit his friends who are still at the home, even though not one person there can show the board proof that Greg ever acted in anger except for the incident that got him discharged from the home. Nor can they show where he ever put his hands on any one in anger unlike some members and they only got a few days out for it.

Food in the main cafeteria has not improved for the veterans. A high carbohydrate diet which can lead to diabetes is still the norm at the home.  Food served is of lower standard than the state feeds prisoners in our states prison system. They are still putting beans in the so called sloppy joes that are made with highly refined mystery meat, that is probably more than just beef, and that can go thru a strainer with ease.

Access to the smoking area in the pavilion area, was reduced to veterans during the winter time, because no one will try to push the smoking room waiver, for the veterans home. People in administration would like to make this a non smoking facility but too many veterans smoke and have done so all their lives. You simply cannot cut them off.

None of the staff are even trying to encourage the veterans put their cigarette butts in the proper receptacles, and instead veterans just pitch them where ever they want, making smoking areas look like trash dumps, even though there are many such receptacles located in each of the smoking areas.

There is no counseling for Dom unit people, who want to transition from living at the home, to go back into society. Nor for the guys who need help dealing with stress, or other issues. 

Veterans at the home cannot access the VA clinic, without first getting a referral from Home staff. And when it comes to medical issues, they cannot go and get a second opinion form a secondary source of medical advice. 

The over drugging of veterans continues as a normal operation at the Home.

This years Carnival, was the smallest one in recent history. Many groups did not participate this year, who had been participating in previous years. One such group told me they are tired of the way they are treated by the administration and the ever growing demands the administration are putting on the groups. 

Veterans had to fight to get a bus to take them to a funeral of a well known and liked individual whose life ended prematurely, in part because of the so called "excellent care" given by the home. His name was Richard Ware. 

Dom unit claims it has 145 beds, but only 43 filled. Yet in the past year it discharged many veterans who needed help but could not get it because the home did not have proper counseling available for them. 

No one seems to know what Dwight Fergason's job is, even though he IS listed as a councilor. Most of the time he is seen walking around with his girlfriend who works there as a nutritionist. The home has several of them and none of the vets know why the home needs so many of them. 

Guardian abuse of veterans at the home continues unchecked, according to reports from several families and individuals.

The home is still trying to force either a guardian or a conservator on many of the vets in the nursing units, even when they don't need one.  One fellow reported they tried 6 times to force one on him. 

Guys in Dom who are listed as homeless sill cannot get a section 8 voucher,  because the state does not consider them to be homeless if they are living at the home. Yet the Administration calls the unit the Transitional unit. Can't be transitional if you cannot leave unless the home kicks you out.

Nursing unit guys tell me their field trips have been reduced to all but none. 

The New Entry way was finished, and the 2 doors are just barely big enough for a wheel chair to get thru each one.. 

The new entry canopy was finished too.. and I can't wait for this winter to show them what a waste of money it was. That fabric on top is going to freeze then rip, and someone is going to get hurt when all that snow and Ice build up on them come crashing down.  

Lots of reports of money being re-routed for things, and donations not being used properly - but that has been an on going issue since 2010 that no one wants to address.

Staff not cooperating with veterans who want to file a complaint, in getting the veterans a copy of their complaint for their own records. Then the complaints being ignored. 

Since the home gives lip service to the veterans complaints, we are now telling the veterans to file their complaints with the OIG office.

Lots of problems with the J2S workers still. This is another on going issue. High turn over, veterans with specific needs having to train new workers to their needs, every other day because a new care provider is assigned to them instead of letting a worker get to know the needs of a specific veteran.

When Veterans file a complaint about a J2S worker, they are just shuttled to another unit on another floor.

Mike Tate, who used to work at J2S, who worked in the court yard and who trained J2S workers told me that in his 3 years of training workers, J2S never once asked him what he though of the new worker, or if he thought they would work out or not..  He also told me about J2S's demand that workers sign contracts that required them to work double shifts without warning. This is not good if you are a single parent, and have to arrange child care for that extra shift. Nor is it good on the workers if they are forced to work 3 and 4 double shifts a week, as some of them did. And at least 4 of them told me that they were burned out  because of it.  The homes administration still has not yet addressed that issue either.

Four of the guys have told me they don't even know who is running the place anymore, and that it seems as if 5-7 people are.

Overall,  every veteran I talked to but 1, told me things have gotten worse in the last year and not better. 

Administration says the problem at the home is lack of funds.  I see a lot of donations being made, yet very little of them actually reaching the veterans.

Veterans say the problem at the home is lack of leadership and a properly defined and well kept chain of command that includes holding people accountable and responsible. And that a double standard exists at the home for both staff and residents. 

And Jim Dunn still thinks everything at the home is just fine. Maybe he needs drug testing too.

Is reporting this, damaging the homes reputation? Or is the poor level of leadership and administration the real reason for its negative reputataion? Even the vets down at Fort Custer, Battle Creek VA hospital know of this place and many say they would rather live on the street than be forced to come to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans..

If the Home has a reputation, it is one it has earned. 

Updated, 11 Aug 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Problems with member council at the vets home.

So, K.H., a veteran at the home, and Gary Davis, who represents Disabled Veterans at the home, call a member council meeting that takes place without enough member officers present to have a proper quorum, and they announce that KH who is not a duly elected Council officer is going to write new by laws for the member council???   How is that legal under the current rules, regulations, by laws, or what ever?

And who gave Gary Davis the authority to proceed with this project?

Who is running that place, Sara Dunne, Gary Davis, or Earnest Meyers, (or some other member of the board of managers). Also reported is that Board of manager Lino Pretto has been haunting the home lately, something most of the board of mangers never do.. what is going on with that?
Is he now running the home?

Something here smells fishy.. we are going to keep an eye on this to find out whats going on.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

How long is Michigan going to continue to allow Court appointed Guardians or Conservators to Destroy Veteran families and Steal Veterans Assets?

How many times have I heard this in the last 5 years? A man goes to the Michigan Veterans Home in Grand Rapids, Mi, and with in a few months a court appointed guardian or conservator, has been imposed upon him and his family.

Yes I said family,  as they have to deal with that guardian/conservator as well. And it can be a very highly charged emotional experience as well as very aggravating when you find out that the courts that are supposed to be protecting your rights are violating them and making things worse not better.

And for the rest of this article G/C will mean Guardian and/or a Conservator that is court appointed.

Either way the fact remains that these people are Court appointed Agents. We haven't quite figured out who they are an agent for except perhaps the courts themselves; or maybe the law industry in general. (Meaning judges, clerks, court administration, lawyers, paralegals and CPA's, ect..)

Either way the G/C is a curse upon freedom. They are rarely held accountable for what they do and under Michigans current laws, it is difficult if not impossible to hold them accountable for the damages they do to families and the very people they are supposed to be helping.

And the Michigan Veterans home LOVES to get G/C's imposed on veterans.

As soon as the court appoints a G/C, any power of attorney issued by the veteran to his wife, or other family member is immediately nullified, many times without any hearing or without showing cause as to why that person should no longer be allowed to exercise the power of attorney given to them by the veteran.

This in effect stops the family members from having any say in how their veteran relative is treated, or how his/her money should be spent and for what purposes. The family is effectively shut out of the veterans life except as a visitor IF the G/C even allows that to happen.

On no less than 6 occasions I heard family members complain the G/C was preventing them from seeing their family member. In 3 cases I saw complaints of G/C removing spousal support; support that the wife of the veteran depended upon and had since the day they got married over 30+ years before. The wives were left with nothing, and instantly became financial widows.

If a veteran does not like what the guardian is doing he can fight it by petitioning the courts. Case after case, I have seen this result in the veteran being put on "anger drugs" when the court refuses to remove the G/C, and the veteran gets angry that his freedom and his right to choose and right to consent is being removed from him by some black robbed thug sitting behind a bench claiming to be upholding American Justice.

The staff at the home forces the veteran to take the anger drugs or they impose punishments on him.  Sometimes they end up making him take even stronger "zombie" drugs. This is shameful, but is standard operating procedure at the Vets Home.  And for several years it was done without qualified medical people. I wonder how many wrongful deaths occurred because of that?

Veterans will find their power chairs or power scooters taken away from them as punishment if they do not take prescribed drugs, or for other behavioral violations such as returning to their unit too late or for going down the hall way too fast when no one else is in the hallway or for any other number of so called reasons.

The fact is when the staff does this, it is not right. The Scooter or power chair is the veterans property and the home takes it from them as punishment??? That is thievery at the very least and is a CRIME. It should also be seen as harassment and abuse of the Veteran. Yet this happens almost daily at the Vets Home.

The only exemption to this is if the power scooter or chair being used is one that belongs to the Home itself; then the home has the right to take it. 

How many times have I heard a Veteran or his wife tell me that the G/C is trying to force them to get a divorce? Just about every time. And I think I know why. So they don't have to use the veterans money to pay for the spouse. Because its easier to care for one person, the veteran which is what they are being paid to do. They do not feel they should have to care for the spouse, as they are not getting paid to do that; or are they? When they take on the responsibility of being G/C for the veteran that means they take on the responsibilities that the veteran had, which may include caring for a spouse.  But if the guardian doesn't like the spouse, or thinks the spouse is abusing the veteran, (with out any proof) the guardian can use any of the veterans assets to pay for a lawyer to force a divorce on the two people, even if neither party wants it! Now explain that to me. Explain how that is helping the veteran?   (Yes this is directed at you Murkowski.)

G/C's can spend unlimited amounts of the veterans money for a divorce lawyer, that does nothing. This has happened to at least 4 veterans that I know of at the home.

When the Veteran tells the G/C he doesn't want the divorce, the G/C may think the wife is influencing the Veterans opinion and get a court order banning the wife from having any contact with her husband. All without a hearing where the wife has the opportunity to speak openly without fear of reprisal from the so called presiding Judge.  In 2 cases, wives were kept apart from their husbands for over 14 months.

In 4 cases, the veterans tried with their wives, to get the G/C's removed. In 1 case the G/C was removed and a daughter was appointed G/C. In another the guardian was removed completely. In the other 2 cases, the judge refused to remove the G/C yet did not explain why and when asked in one case, the judge replied he didn't have to explain his decision.

Can you see why some veterans get angry with staff and G/C's? Well, an angry vet is a dangerous vet, in some cases  - but not all. Vets with PTSD  can go off at any time when angered, so the home forces the vet to take "anger medication".  Medication designed to keep them calm even if they have the right to be angry. This creates a lot of unnecessary stress for the veteran. And many times the application of the drugs is done without proper supervision of qualified medical personnel. 

Some of the drugs are psychotropic drugs that require a certified licensed Psychiatrist be on staff. Well the home hasn't had one since before 2010 that I am aware of.  And yet many veterans were on those kinds of drugs, both in Nursing and Dorm Units.

In the case of a Veteran with a G/C, the veteran is forced to take the drugs, even if doing so goes against the will of the Veteran.

Most of these drugs turn the guys into zombies, and side effects are not monitored as closely as they should be.

In one case, a veteran stopped taking one of those zombie drugs, and for months was spitting it out. Then at a care conference the staff said he was doing great not knowing he was not on the drug.
Only after this veteran went to Outside hospital, did the home find out and when they did, they went ballistic. They made him take the drug he did not need, and their excuse was that he had had anger issues in the past. A few weeks later the man was dead because of what that drug did to him.

The G/C, the medical staff at the home, are responsible for the early death of this veteran, and several others for the same reasons: Forcing them to take medications they do not need.

Also, Veterans at the home do not have the same opportunity as other veterans to go get a second medical opinion if they disagree with the homes medical staff. For the veteran to be able to go over to the vets clinic located next door to the home, they have to get the ok from the home's medical staff. And that doesn't happen very often.

And if the Veteran has a G/C assigned to them, the veteran can't go out on his own to a private doctor at any of the medical centers here in town or anywhere else in Michigan, to get a second opinion.
This is not right either.

If a G/C is challenged and a Petition is presented to the Court for their removal, exparte communication between the G/C and the Judge happens where the G/C is given permission to use the Veteran's money the G/C has control of to pay for any and all legal expenses related to the termination of the G/C. If the Veteran wants to have his G/C removed, his money is used by the G/C for them to keep their job.

In addition, the G/C has control of how medical bills are paid. If the G/C chooses not to use the Veterans insurance, they can make that choice as they control the veterans finances and often this ends up leaving a huge bill for the family. An unnecessary bill for the family that also creates even more distress and anger.

In the case of Veterans at the Home, the G/C may see several different veterans in one day yet she will charge each veteran with individual mileage to and from the Home. In most cases, the G/C does not keep a vehicle log. Many G/C's do not keep proper receipts. When the ward of a G/C dies, the G/C does not contact the family. The extended family is contacted though. It is not uncommon for the G/C to make funeral arrangements for the veteran without informing family members, or the veterans wife. In several cases they did not find out until after their loved one died.

There are cases when a G/C is necessary. When a spouse and children are active in the life of an incapacitated adult, they need to be included in every decision regarding the ward. At the Grand Rapids Home(?) for Veterans, the Home does not like it when anybody other than the G/C inquires about a veteran.  The home will refuse to let a wife know what is going on with her husband. The veteran's children are told nothing, all at the whim of the G/C.

And the term incapacitated is a joke. Many times, the courts will label a veteran with this. The veteran may be totally coherent but if a judge decides to the contrary, the veteran loses. I know of one instance where a judge ruled a veteran legally incapacitated because "he didn't know how much money he received every month". To hear a judge scream this in court as his basis for making the incapacitation judgement is ridiculous. This fallacy of the judge hits home when you consider that in many cases, the amount of revenue a veteran obtains each month can change, due to changing benefits being received from several different sources. Some times its hard to keep track of it all. 

The Psychiatric hospital south of town called Pine Rest makes an evaluation that the Courts use to decide if a veteran needs a G/C. Many times, a veteran has poor motor control in his upper extremities. If this veteran is told to draw a clock and doesn't make the clock in detail with little arrows and numbers, he fails the test. When they are told to draw a person and the veteran draws a stick figure, they fail the test. You got to wonder how detailed Pine Rest wants this figure to be

The fact is the G/C laws in Michigan are old, outdated and need to be scrapped and re-written for the benefit of the people who get burdened with them. They are destroying lives and families. Right now these laws only benefit the people imposing and administering them.

How much longer are the people of Michigan going to allow this to continue?