Sunday, July 19, 2015
Flashback Jan 2012, Mi Vets home eliminates state employed caregivers, moves for privatization, claims it won't harm the residents - Turns out they were wrong.
From Jan 20th, 2012.. Turns out the predictions have come to be reality for too many at the Home.
GRAND RAPIDS — Members of the board charged with oversight of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans conceded Thursday they were kept in the dark about lay offs and plans to close the facility's 4th floor while eliminating 90 skilled nursing beds.
“We need to know this stuff before we come to a board meeting,” said Ernest Meyers Sr., a member of the Board of Managers, which supervises both the Grand Rapids facility and the Dominic J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette.
The board met at the Grand Rapids facility just as news broke about plans to lay 10 off to 15 employees next month and exact severe cuts in the number of nursing beds.
Board Chairman F. Gerrit Veldman said he only learned of the cuts as he sat down to breakfast Thursday, calling it a “bit of a shock.”
Added board member Gerald Cool: “I didn’t know nothing about it.”
Veterans advocate Michael Willard, 75, a long-time volunteer at the home, called the lack of oversight inexcusable.
“It’s bad news. This board should know everything that is going on.”
Willard suggested the board has been overrun by political decisions being made outside its purview.
“They are not running this home. The higher-ups are telling them what to do.”
James Dunn, chief of staff for the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs, conceded he could have done a better job keeping board members informed.
“I apologize if I didn’t give you the exact situation,” Dunn said.
Dunn said the state has little choice but to trim expenses, because of a $4.2 million cut in state funds to the home and stalled plans to replace 170 union nurses aides with non-union contract workers.
The plans were halted at the 11th hour on Sept. 30 when Ingham County Judge Paula J.M. Manderfield issued a restraining order blocking the workers’ layoff. The judge said the plan would result in harm to the veterans in the home.
The judge’s action came after home resident Anthony Spallone sued on behalf of himself and other veterans, claiming residents would “experience irreparable harm” if the workers were laid off and contract workers replaced them. - And it turns out Anthony was correct, but privatization was allowed to go forward.
According to state filings in the case, the hiring of non-union aides would save the home an estimated $18,000 a day.
The board approved generalized plans in December to reduce the overall population in the home, which has approximately 460 skilled nursing beds and 83 beds for those who are independent.
Gov. Rick Snyder signaled intentions to privatize the positions in the 2012 budget for the home, at an estimated savings of up to $5.8 million a year. State funds to the home were cut by $4.2 million in anticipation of that move.
State-paid aides earn $15 to $20 an hour based on seniority to help feed, clothe and otherwise help residents. They also receive overtime as well as state pensions and health insurance.
The home pays $15 an hour for contract aides, although those workers actually receive less because the employment agency they work through takes part of that amount, according to union workers.
J2S company who won the contract, pays its workers up to 12 an hour. Most make 10 or less.
Approximately 100 aides at the home were on contract prior to the privatization plan.
Veterans advocates have been harshly critical of the drive to privatize the home, as well as the abrupt move to close down an entire floor. Members are being relocated to other floors of the home.
“These men fought, died, lost limbs,” said John Olinger, 55, of Belmont, a frequent volunteer at the home.
“We shouldn’t be closing down floors.
“I’m really ashamed when I read about letting all these people go.”
Bob Bianchi, another long-time backer of the home, maintained privatization comes at the expense of the residents.
“I don’t believe in privatization,” he told the board.
“I never did. Republicans believe in that, to cut the cost. You pay for what you get. And to privatize this home, for these veterans it’s wrong. They deserve the best that money can buy and they are not getting it.”
Veteran Fred Sinclair, 74, a resident at the home for the past year, doesn’t like the switch to contract caregivers. Long-time union workers become familiar with the particular needs of each resident, he said.
“They learn who you are. They know what we need and what we don’t need.”
As for the contract workers, he said, “It’s a different one every day. They don’t know if they can walk and chew gum at the same time.”
Sinclair said he was embarrassed when a contract caregiver he had never seen before walked in on him when he was naked.
Sinclair said residents were deceived about the decision to close the fourth floor, maintaining they were told it was a temporary move. In other words, they were lied to again by this administration.
“It’s like politicians, you know they are lying when their lips are moving,” he said of administration at the home.
Frank Snarski, who was commandant of the home for about 10 years until his retirement in 2010, is dismayed by developments. He contended that the state is mistaken that contracted care is just as good as that afforded by union workers, many of whom have worked there more than 10 years.
“I would never support any of this. I don’t support privatization at all. You get what you pay for.”
From the comments section:
July 2015.. Everything here predicted has come true. J2S the private contractor has been a dismal experiment. Quality health care has gone down the drain. James Dunn of MVAA should be ashamed of himself. Gov Rick Snyder shouldn't even show his face to these guys..
The home has become like a prison to many. The board of managers recommendations and decisions are constantly being over ruled or ignored by Dunn and Snyder.
Frank Snarski was right.. they got what (little) they paid for, with the privatized J2S workers.
This place doesn't even have proper Internet for the residents, or public (including state officials) who visit the place.
The home under Snyder has become a Disgrace to Veterans.
This is not about the caregivers. Does someone pay Mr. Darling to post idiotic, inaccurate statements? This is about laying off skilled,college degree workers. The employees being layer off now are social workers, recreational therapists, a registered nurse, and others. Their last day is next Friday, 2/3/12. They are laying off workers that provide crucial therapy for mental health issues, post traumatic stress disorder, loss of independence, potential substance abuse issues, incentive therapy, coping skills, medical intervention and education, diabetic education and so much more. Many of these skilled degreed workers are being payed less than the private sector. The veterans are devastated by the loss of these employees. The fourth floor patients are being forced to move to units with different staff. This has been extremely chaotic and stressful for the veterans, their families and staff. This is about the veterans. NOT the misconception of the caregiver wages that are being dwelled on incorrectly. This is about the veterans and quality of care. The facility is about to lose Amazing skilled staff that the Veterans have significantly benefited from their services. The veterans and their families deserve better.
And the complaints about the J2S workers are endless. Workers that don't knock before entering a room where some guys may be naked while changing cloths. Workers showing disrespect for the veterans. Workers with poor attitudes. And of course, the turn over rate being so high for J2S, and under staffing happening more often than not.
Recently 2 guys told me about 3, J2S workers laughing about how many times they had been fired then rehired by J2S because its so desperate for workers. The guys who told me about this said the girls were fresh out of school with little if any work experience. This would not surprise me at all.