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

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