Monday, December 5, 2016

ACTION ALERT. Please call Scott, Board of Mangers members, and Director MVAA.

ACTION ALERT: Please call SCOTT, BOM, Director MVAA.

I need you to call Scott, and the board of managers, and Jim Redford of the MVAA, and DEMAND the card table chairs for the new card table in cozy corners be returned to Cozy Corners for visitors and veterans to use.

I also ask you ask them for the resignation of Tiffany Carr for her treatment of volunteers.

PER a posting on our Face Book page today:
John Olinger: "Got in this morning and asked about the chairs the volunteer office had no idea did find them in a conference room Tiffany stopped asked way I was looking for them as I told her some visitors and members ask about them i did tell her that I told these people to call her or the volunteer office and I asked her way the volunteer who work in their were not told about this and she said it was none of our business. I don't think it fair to have members and visitors and some not in a good mood and when they try to see them the're in a meeting or lunch or they can not be found that way they asked us not them."


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Grand Rapids veterans home CEO resigned because of 'road blocks and loopholes'

Watch 13 news article HERE 

LANSING, MICH. - After spending a little more than a year as the top leader at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, CEO Leslie Shanlian says she's had enough of the government bureaucracy hurting care for our most vulnerable veterans.
"It took me almost a year to get mattresses in for our members," Shanlian said.
Shanlian is leaving the state government, moving to the private sector. Her departure comes at a critical juncture for the employees and veterans at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
Shanlian is pulling for state lawmakers to pass legislation by the end of the year, which would create the "Michigan Veterans Facility Authority": a new governmental organization that would have broad powers to run the two veterans' homes in Michigan.
"It's more frustrating dealing with road blocks and loopholes to accomplish something for the veterans when you know it could be much more simply done with an authority or the private sector," Shanlian said.
More: Watchdog Team obtains scathing audit that shows numerous problems at Grand Rapids Home for Veterans
Related: Inadequate care at GR veterans home amid shakeup; New questions regarding changes at GR Home for Veterans
Union leaders are telling us, though, they are very concerned about the creation of this authority. They believe if the new governmental entity is established, it would attempt to hire people without using civil service rules.  Labor leaders say they believe the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans will be much smaller, potentially meaning as many as 200 layoffs.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and James Redford, the director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, both told WZZM layoffs are not on the table and the move to create the authority isn't meant to get rid of union workers.
"It's not in terms of busting up unions, it's about looking at an authority and best practices," Snyder told the Watchdog team.
"The bill that I've read doesn't say there are going to be layoffs," Redford said. "It doesn't say anything other than it's going to design a system to provide best possible and most responsive care to our veterans because this is our goal."
MVAA spokeswoman Suzanne Thelen told us it's likely there will be a reduction in the workforce at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, though, through attrition and retirements. She says the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans will likely be a 120-bed facility after everything is changed.

To add some space, the state is hoping to build a new home in southeast Michigan.
The Senate fiscal committee indicated there have been estimates that a new facility could be built in Detroit housing 125 veterans for a cost of $82 million, approximately $53 million would come from the federal government. There are also plans to build a new facility in Grand Rapids at the current Home for Veterans site for a cost of $70 million, with $45 million coming from the federal government.
Lawmakers are racing to get the legislation done before the end of this term.  If they don't complete it, they'll need to start from scratch in 2017.
There's a pending deadline of April to get requests into the federal government for the money.
Shanlian said veterans shouldn't be scared of the changes coming because she says the facilities will be able to operate in a more patient-centered environment. As for the employees, she said high performers will always be retained.
"If you're a good employee, you have nothing to worry about," Shanlian said

Ed note: I told you she left for reasons of dealing with the bloated bureaucracy.. turns out I was right. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

CEO Grand Rapids Home for Veterans resigns

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After only about a year on the job, top administrator for the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans has resigned.
A Thursday statement from Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency James Redford said Leslie Shanlian submitted her resignation Monday, effective Nov. 28.
In a separate statement, Shanlian said she resigned to take a job in the private sector.

She said that her time as CEO of the Michigan Veteran Health System was a “rewarding and humbling experience that allowed me to honor the life of my brother who was killed in combat in Iraq.”
Shanlian took the job in October 2015 and was also in charge of the veteran’s home in Marquette.
Only a few months later, the state released a scathing audit of the home that found the home falsely claimed they were checking on patients after being alerted of possible falls, failed to properly investigate allegations of abuse and neglect, took too long to fill prescriptions, and was not adequately staffed despite complaints. The complaints predated Shanlian’s tenure as CEO.
Redford credited Shanlian with developing a strong leadership team and “implementing evidence-based best practices that are making significant improvements in the care and quality of life in Michigan’s veterans homes.” He said she “provided the energy and focus needed to rapidly address and remedy the most serious findings” of the audit.
Brad Slagle will take over as the interim CEO of the Michigan Veteran Health Sytem. He is currently the chief operating officer of the veterans home in Marquette.

Shanlian provided this statement on her resignation:
“Serving as the first CEO of the Michigan Veteran Health System has been a privilege. I have enjoyed using my professional skills and experience to work with the very talented and dedicated staff of the MVHS and the two veterans homes to improve the quality of long term care for Michigan veterans for years to come. It has been a rewarding and humbling experience that allowed me to honor the life of my brother who was killed in combat in Iraq and I thank M.G. Vadnais and Director Redford for the opportunity to serve.
“The decision to accept a new opportunity in the private sector was a personal one. As CEO of the Health System, my job often required me to travel across the state several times a week and to Marquette several times a month. Healthcare is a very competitive field with many opportunities to serve our aging population and I have chosen an opportunity that allows me to lead and strengthen a long-term care community closer to my home and spend time with my children who are still in school. I will never forget the men and women who live in our state veterans homes and the duty we have to ensure that they receive the highest standard of care and as I transition will continue to support initiatives in the legislature that would create an authority allowing the state to expand and modernize long-term care to veterans.”
The statement from Redford:
“On Monday, Leslie Shanlian informed M.G Vadnais and me that she has accepted a job in the private sector and resigned as CEO of the Michigan Veteran Health System, effective November 28, 2016.
“Leslie was appointed CEO in October 2015 and charged with the responsibility of establishing the Michigan Veteran Health System which oversees the state’s two veteran’s homes and ensuring one coordinated set of policies and procedures govern the day-to-day operations at both the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette. The two homes provide quality, long-term care to Michigan citizens who have served in the military and their dependents.
“During her tenure with MVHS, Shanlian is credited with developing and leading a team of 4 vice presidents who found and are implementing national best practices in the areas of nursing, finance, social work and healthcare management. Under her leadership and direction, the system’s two COOs and staff have focused on laying the groundwork for CMS certification, creating a culture of patient-centered care, and implementing evidence-based best practices that are making significant improvements in the care and quality of life in Michigan’s veterans homes. Following an Office of the Auditor General audit of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans released in February 3016, Leslie provided the energy and focus needed to rapidly address and remedy the most serious findings prior to commencement of a second audit 6 months later.
“Leslie has built a strong leadership team and provided the energy, experience and enthusiasm needed to make substantial improvement in how we care for veterans in Michigan,” said James Robert Redford, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. “Leslie tapped into her knowledge of CMS standards and best practices as well as leveraging her extensive network to rapidly correct deficiencies at the Grand Rapids Home, improve the financial and business operations of both homes and set high standards for care across the Health System that will lay the foundation for successful operation and expansion of Michigan Veterans Homes in the future,” Redford continued, “we thank her for her service to the veterans community.”


BULL!  I am putting money on the fact that she got tired of having to deal with MVAA's BULLSH*T. More than once I have heard her and Scott say they are constantly fighting with the leadership at MVAA who are preventing them from doing the job they were hired to do.

Well folks, we are back to square 1.  The vets at the home just got SCREWED again..

OH, FYI.. population at the home is less than 400, from what used to be a 750 person facility. And they don't even have the home in Detroit started yet.

So once again, Michigan is shafting its veterans.. Thank you Gubinor Snyder.

I just hope I am wrong about this..

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Recent Board of Managers meeting

Ok guys, post this:

[ OK, here it is a day late. Sorry, I was out on service calls yesterday, and didn't get home until way late last night].

I went to the Board of managers meeting today at GRH4V. I inquired about the pop/vending problems, and the incident I had with a Dom Unit member 2 weeks ago. More on this later.

First, there was a lot of talk about what is being done behind the scenes, (in my humble opinion,) to clean up the mess left by the previous administration. I have been to many BOM meetings, including several under the former BOM group ran by Earnest Meyers, the disgraceful marine who was the chairman during the time I was at the home and while Sara Dunn was there.

This BOM is nothing like that one. These people had their act together and were very professional. We got reports on many things. Long term goals, of the Michigan Veterans Healthcare system (the new thing that runs the vets homes), reports on accountability of both Homes, actual numbers and costs. It was very refreshing to see a team of people who KNOW what they are doing, and are qualified to do it.

Remember what we said before? Before Leslie and Scott can rebuild, they need to clean up the mess?? Well the mess is all but cleaned up and now they are moving forward with plans for the entire state, not just GRH4V. They discussed a 6 phase plan for Michigan Veterans homes, with the GR home being rebuilt to actually be a usable viable place. Apparently the current design complicates health care and safe living conditions, or something like that. All new homes built will be on 1 level for residents. If there are 2nd floors, the upper units will be for staff offices, not living spaces.

A team of people including congressmen, veterans, and others took a look at other states programs and veterans homes that were Medicare/Medicaid compliant. Members of this team, individually came to the same conclusion and plan for the next Michigan Veterans home Model. The ones they looked at work well, and residents are happy with their living conditions. This is where Michigan wants to go. Ground work to reach that goal is already in progress.

A 6 phase program where 2 homes will be built first. Apparently they want smaller homes, 150 or so beds to each one. One in Downtown Detroit metro, one in Flint/Saginaw/Bay City thumb area, and one somewhere in north Central LP, and of course the 2 current homes in Marquette and GR will be rebuilt. All of this of course provided the state will give them the money to do it. Money will also come from the Federal VA and other sources and building the homes will create jobs.

Talk about SS Medicare compliant requirements. They are on track with getting this accomplished. Talk about a recent VA audit. DJ Home had 2 issues one of which was fixed before the auditors even left. GR still working on its issues, which have improved greatly.

The wording for the Ombudsman bill is done, and the Legislature expects to start interviewing prospects this coming Friday. They expect to seat the Ombudsman no later than 1st May 2016, earlier if they can.
GRH4V has a new Business manager. A lady. Didn’t catch her name. I also noticed they have a new numbers person. The guy had all the figures ready, and was at the top of his game. He had numbers, and policies both State and Fed, ready when asked about things, procedures, and possibilities of future spending’s, accounting's, and other such stuff. I was impressed.

The home got 2 letters from people who wanted problems addressed.

First was a visitor to one of the veterans. This visitor came all the way from Nevada. The guardian of the veteran refused to grant the visitor access. The visitor complained in a letter. Leslie told us that under State law, the guardian can prevent family members or others from being able to see a person if the guardian thinks the visitor will cause distress or harm to that person. And that this was the case in that situation.
They also got a letter from someone complaining about a staff member having a personal relationship with one of the residents, and why was the staff member not fired, when recently another staff member got fired for it (he was referring to the member bank Teller).

Both Leslie and Chairman Bob Johnson said with all the things the BOM has to do and the challenges facing the Administration that this problem would be way low on their list of priorities.

Since the letter was sent anonymously there was no way to respond to the writer, so the issue is now considered to be closed.

Now our Numbers guy was talking about REAL costs, assessed costs, and paid costs for members.
I was shocked when I heard him talk about the Dom units’ real cost. So after the meeting I talked to him and asked him for real numbers.

Under the current law, a resident veteran in Dom unit is assessed (charged) 53 percent of actual cost of care. The REAL cost to be in Dom, is just over 4k per month. WHAT?!!! Yes, 4,000+dollars a month. 53 percent of which is about 2300 a month. The Resident veteran, pays what he can of that 2300 a month. He is allowed to keep 100 dollars if he cannot pay it in full.

Now here is the part that most veterans do not know. The difference between the assessed 2300 a month and what the veteran does NOT pay for, accumulates on record, and if that veteran EVER comes into a large sum of money, the State has a lien on all future windfalls that veteran may get. Win the lottery, get an inheritance, etc., the state will send the veteran a bill for the unpaid portion of their assessed cost of care. So these guys with no income at all, are running up a big bill that some day might just be collected by the state.
What gets me, is most VA pensions, (unless you are 100 percent crippled, in a wheel chair, getting meals thru a straw) are less than 900 a month. Social Security Disability at 100 percent is about 1300 a month, of which 1200 goes to cost of care, leaving you with a balance of about 1,100 a month that starts adding up.
And I for one, GET SSDI, at just under 1300 a month and I live on this. I get help from other government sources, which brings my total to about 1700 a month, but even that is far below the 2300 a month they are expecting Dom Unit guys to pay. And even the 2300 does not cover the full 4,000+ amount it costs to have one person in Dom. The numbers guy told me the nursing units cost near or over 10,000 a month! (but again they only get assessed a percentage of that amount).

Like OMG, are you kidding me??!!! How can people afford to retire? This just blew my mind. And the 4k cost? That blows my mind. I look at this like manufacturing. The more you make of an item the cheaper it should be, right? Well, that’s not the case with the vets home apparently. 4k for an 8x10 area, 3 hots and a cot, and one full time nurse. Oh and they get to see the doc for sick call twice a week – If the home has enough doc’s to cover it, which at this time they do not.

Personally I think the cost of Dom unit is too much. It is a needed service for veterans. Its original purpose was as a Transition unit. And it was that way for many years. It will be going back to that. And that service is greatly needed.

And yes, there was discussion on getting more staff in the medical department (meaning more permanent (and qualified) doctors).

And finally at the end, during public comments. I inquired about the vending machine problem in Cozy Corners. Scott said he was working on it and that there is a process that has to be gone through because of the laws. First, prices are supposed to be set, according to local markets – which sell 20 ounce cokes for 1.75 or less, (1.75 and the 2nd one for 1 dollar, so 2 for 2.75 which means 1 should be about 1.35). Second, he got them to drop the prices on cans. And is working on getting the cost of the 20 ounce bottles dropped as well.

Also I mentioned about the machines set up to NOT refund money when an item was out. That you were forced to make another choice or lose your money. He is looking into that and was not aware that it was happening.

I think took up the matter about visitors having a form to write up an abusive resident. They said to report it to the residents nurse. I then said, in this case it would be Kathy up on Dom unit, what do you think would be done about that? Nothing. So after the meeting Scott and I talked about the incident with Don, and who witnessed it, and why there is a need for a form so that this kind of behavior can be tracked and checked.
Kim Olinger also mentioned the abuse she sometimes gets from residents. She is a volunteer, and an elder, and as such, can file a complaint of elder abuse against the resident. So between the two of us, I think we showed them that yes, we need a form for visitors and such to write up abusive residents. Since I am both a former resident, a veteran and a disabled person, I can nail ‘em for at least 2 things.

Overall, I think todays BOM meeting covered a lot of ground. I am very satisfied with what is going on in the background of the home. The old administration is gone. A new one is in place, and they have laid the foundation for the future of veterans care. They did quite a bit, and are moving forward. I think soon after the election you are going to see major changes and improvements at the home.

The old model of 1 big place is past history. GRH4V will be the last of the “big homes”, and will itself become the new standard for smaller, more efficient homes for veteran health care as we move forward into the new model.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Lack of policy at vets home puts vet thru hell when they get curbed.

Ok, take a seat and let’s have a real discussion here. Let me ask you a few questions.

Raise your right hand if any of you think, that as bad as the Federal Veterans Administration is, that any veterans really wants to go there for health care? Ok, I see a few hands raised. True some vets think the VA gives excellent care. At the Ann Arbor VA hospital, despite having to hurry up and wait in line at labs, and what not, I did get good health care. And my operation was a big success or I would not be here now. So yeah, some VA locations are good. Not to sure about our local clinic – it is improving but the administration needs to go a long ways before I call it improved.

Now take a look at the Grand Rapids home for Veterans. It is a State ran facility, which uses federal VA money. It comes under state law. Raise your left hand if you think any vet in his right mind wants to go there. Ok again I see a few hands, but not as many as there should be.

Most veterans go to the VA or a place like the state ran Vets home because they have nowhere else to turn to, to get the help they need. This is true for the Federal VA and the GR home for vets.
In the case of the dorm unit, the home seems to have a history of confusion. The confusion is both about what a “home for veterans” is, and how to properly run one.

Remember, the original purpose of this Vets home, was to give civil war vets a place to live, and to get them OUT of the poor houses that existed at the time.

Yet today we have an administration, that after months of testimony about the LAST administration, seems to be throwing a veteran out of the home, back to the street, and back to the “poor houses” of modern day instead of keeping him in the Dom unit, where he has lived for 13 years.

Is the Dom unit as it is called, just a unit where veterans live long term, until they need to go to a nursing unit where they remain until they die? Or is it a unit were veterans who cannot function outside an institutionalized structured environment go to live? Or where veterans who are unemployable and have little or no income, go to live?

Or is it a transitory unit, where they go to get a “time out”? A place where they can relax and get their messed up lives together, or do a readjustment because their life style or conditions have changed, and they need time to gather needed resources. Right now the GRH4V administration seems to be having a hard time making the determination as to what the Dom Unit is.

A once productive veteran who lived outside the home finds himself unemployable, and going from taking home 1000 bucks a week pay, to living on 1000 a month disability, is a major change for anyone. Going from being independent to having to rely on people for help due to a medical issue, is another. And housing. Going from being able to pay your own cost of living in full to having to apply for Government housing assistance thru HUD, is another. Such things take time. And the stress on the veteran during this time is unbelievable.

Imagine working your whole life, and losing everything and ending up living on the street – in the USA!!! Such stories are what we expect to hear from 3rd world countries, not in the United States.
One of the options a veteran has is using a special program in HUD that is for veterans only. It is called HUD-VASH, or HUD Veterans Affairs Special Housing program. Applying for the benefit and getting started in this, can take 2 to 6 months. Once a person qualifies for it, they get a Voucher. They then have 30 days to find a place that will accept it. Michigan has no state wide anti-discrimination laws for low income people. Individual cities or town may, but as a whole no such thing exists state wide. And each county has its own HUD-VASH Program.

At one time in the GRH4V, the Dom unit was a transitory unit, where vets would be accepted, and they would get their affairs in order, apply for the voucher then leave the home. At the time they were accepted, they were called homeless veterans.

But in 2011, the feds changed the law. They said the veterans living in the Dom Unit are no longer to be classified as Homeless, thus disqualifying them from applying for HUD-VASH Vouchers. There was about 150 vets in the Dom unit when this happened. It is still that way today, and the Dom Unit is down to about 36 people, which includes 2 wives of veterans who are using the home as a retirement home.

If the home is going to return to the Transitory unit policy, it needs to set up procedures and options to help the veteran make the transition from living in the structured environment of the home, to living on their own and being responsible for their own care. This means finding a place to live that is affordable, being able to cook their own meals, and clean their own homes. Having reliable transportation so the vet can get to medical appointments at the VA clinic or VA hospital.

Most guys at the Dom Unit do not have a car, and rely on public transportation. In fact, most guys in the Dom unit own little other than the clothing they wear, and maybe a computer or TV for their room. They will need everything a real home needs. Eating supplies such as plates, cups, silverware. Cleaning supplies, dish soap, drying towels, Broom, mop, vacuum cleaner. Bathroom stuff, wash cloths, towels. And other things like laundry supplies. How about a Bed and bedding materials, sheets, pillows, blankets? Chair for the living room? Microwave? How about FOOD? Or getting utilities turned on if they have bad credit or outstanding bills? All this needs to be considered.
We cannot just throw Vets to the curb by saying it is time for them to leave the home.

When the home announces that a veteran must leave the facility, this is what the veteran is thinking: where will he or she go? Where will they get all of those items above, if they have no income, or little income? Can they get help thru government agencies, and if so which ones and where are they located at. The Vet goes thru depression and if he/she thinks they will end up on the street, I will say that they do think suicide as a possible option. Many throw out that option but the thoughts do cross their minds, even if they will not admit that they do.

3 weeks is not enough time. 3 MONTHS may not be enough time. It is even more difficult when the city you are in, is in a lack of affordable low income housing crisis because of economic growth. This is the case in Grand Rapids Metro area.

So why is this home throwing W to the curb? We are going to find out soon. He is under a lot of stress right now. You cannot imagine what it is like until you live thru it.

The home needs to take time to take a good look at its DOM unit, and its Policies (if there are any legal ones in place), and what it does to help a veteran transition from being a poor homeless person with few belongings to being able to be on their own in a home of their own. Other wise we are doing a disservice to the veterans, and in my opinion, the worst form of veteran abuse.

1 more thing to add to this.. all those so called service organizations that say they help veterans?? Guess what.. Unless you are service connected, most of them DO NOT HELP. This makes it harder for a non service connected veteran to get the help they need.

Lets not even talk about the fact Veterans represent less than 8 percent of our nations population. And that since 1972 we have been an all volunteer Military.

And the fact that groups of Veterans are still being treated differently based on their experiences while wearing the uniform, ready to put their lives on the line at any moment. Many were put in harms way and never got credit for it, and thus cannot get help from the HUNDREDS of so called veterans help organizations out there who only help specific classes or group of Veterans. We need to start recognizing that every veteran deserves to be helped if they need it, as they too contributed to our nations safety.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Vets home returns to policy of curbing Dorm Unit Vets.

Less than a year since the nightmare of the Sara Dunne administration was stopped and she was removed, a new nightmare faces some residents of the veterans home.They are once again kicking veterans to the street, or "curbing" them.

The former Administration was replaced with not 1 but a unknown number of upper management people. We know both veterans homes have a Daily Operations Officer, and one Chief operations officer, Leslie Shanlain. There now appears to be 1 or more vice presidents or something like that too.

Well under Sara Dunn there was 150 guys and gals in Dorm unit.. when she left there was about 45 left. Now the home is kicking people out again.. this time in an underhanded sneaky way. And its angering a LOT of people.

In this case, one of the residents had a medical condition develop which required him to be temporarily transferred to a nursing unit.

While there they messed up his medication and almost killed him. Then they got it corrected and hes fine now.. but they are telling him he no longer qualified to return to the dorm unit where all his stuff STILL IS.. and have given him until the end of the month to move out of the home.

Grand Rapids is in a housing crisis now, due to the so called good economy here. And there is no law against discriminating against low income people, including disabled vets.

It takes 3 to 6 months to get paperwork thru the system to get a HUD VASH voucher for housing assistance for a veteran  - not 2 or even 3 weeks.

And now we are informed that in case mentioned here,  a new policy that went into effect at the start of the year is why they are claiming that the resident cannot return to the Dorm unit.. which I think is BULLSH*T.  They told him the move was temporary, not permanent, and implied he would be returning to Dorm unit, not being kicked to the curb

This is not good. This individual already paid his cost of care this month and has no money to move with. They waited to inform him until AFTER he paid his monthly cost of care. Now they want him to move out by the end of the month. HOW? They took all his money but 100 bucks.. Do they think he can move on 100 dollars??! Are they that insane?  They must be.

Basically they are getting rid of another Dorm unit Veteran using some stupid excuse or reason to do so.

This is supposed to be a HOME for veterans, not a place to abuse them.. What they are doing to this guy is nothing but abuse. And its a return to old policies that are NOT in best interests of the Veterans.

The new administration is just as bad as the old, and costs taxpayers of Michigan even more money than before.

Nothing has changed. Except the names and the faces that go with them.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Veterans Home new CEO Leslie Shanlian's reputation with the Veterans takes a hit.

As news that former head administer Sara Dunne was returning to the home late at night, the veterans anxiety level at the home increased, and their trust of the new Administration decreased.

As one veteran stated, "We now know Leslie is just another (Governor) Snyder puppet, sent here to do what he wants, and will probably help cover up the wrong doings of the Dunne administration."

Veterans are frustrated that Shanlian knew of Dunnes returning and did nothing to prevent it.

After months of testimony to the State congress, much of it in writing and some of it in person during hearings held in Lansing, and a special hearing held at the Grand Rapids home for Veterans, where veterans testified about their fear of Dunne and the abuse Veterans had to withstand under her administration,  the Veterans are angered and worried that the administration has allowed Dunne to return.

The Veterans want her banned from the property until all investigations and audits are completed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cheryel Ware's Testimony on 13 June 2016

Thank you for allowing me to speak to you all this morning.  It would have been terrific if Richard could have been here but that isn't possible.  Everyday of my life, Richard is with me and it is because of this, that I am here today.  I am looking for accountability for his death as he was murdered the 21st of May, 2014.  I am Cheryel, Richard's wife of over 25 years.  I hold the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans accountable for killing my husband. 

When Richard entered the Home in August 2010, he was a 100% service connected disabled veteran.  He suffered from many health issues which forced me to place him there.  A mistake I will take to my grave.

To my horror, the Home contacted the Kent County Court where an application for a court appointed guardian was filed.  It didn't matter to the Home that Richard had two adult children or a loving wife.  In January, 2011, Richard was given Cynthia Thornbury as his court appointed guardian and conservator.  I think you need to know that Mrs. Thornbury has also been appointed to represent many other veterans at the Home as well.  She is well acquainted with the Social Workers at the Home and uses that to her advantage when dealing with the veterans.

Within a year, I fought to keep us married as the guardian wanted us divorced. She sold my husband's car to help pay for the divorce that didn't happen. My husband didn't want a divorce but yet the guardian used his money to pay over $16,000 for a divorce lawyer.  Medical records reveal that Karen Fuji, Social Worker, repeatedly asked my husband if he wanted this divorce and he consistently replied with a resounding NO.

As Richard didn't want the divorce, he was constantly asking his guardian to stop the proceedings. The guardian felt that I was behind this so she convinced a judge to keep us apart. This no contact order lasted 14 months.  I approached Gary Davis and Sara Dunne with this, begging for their help.  They refused. 
My husband wanted this guardian removed and asked me to petition the court to be his guardian. I did as my husband asked. He approached Karen Fuji asking for her help.  She refused.  FYI.  The guardian used my husband's money to hire an attorney to keep her job. The court denied my petition to have her removed. Again, my husband lost and Judge David Murkowski of the Kent County Probate Court approved the guardian using my husband's money for this purpose.  For my husband, he was now a prisoner at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

My husband was very angry with everything that was happening to him. The Home decided to drug him so he wasn't so upset. They put him on several different drugs until they decided on the drug Depakote. Depakote turned him into a zombie. He couldn't carry on a decent conversation with anybody. He developed further signs of dementia which is a side effect of taking this drug. He also developed a persistent intestinal problem which turned into C-Diff.  This drug was prescribed by Dr. Mark Bates, and approved by the guardian.

In January 2014, my husband decided to stop taking the drug. He knew he had to be careful doing this as he was threatened with losing his electric scooter if he didn't take it as prescribed. He would give the medical staff the impression he was taking it and then go to his bathroom and spit it out.

In March of 2014, at a routine care conference, his guardian and the medical staff commended him on how much he had improved, that his episodes of anger were gone. Nothing was said to the staff at this time that he hadn't been taking the drug.

Towards the end of March, Richard developed a bad case of pneumonia and was hospitalized for 10 days. At that time, I discussed with Richard the need to "let the cat out of the bag" about the Depakote not being taken. He agreed and all parties involved, including those at the Home and at Metro Health were informed of my husband's actions.

Richard returned to the Home where he was forced to again, take the Depakote. It was ground up and put in his applesauce. There was no way he could refuse taking it. When he asked why after he was told he was doing so good at his March care conference, he was told that it was because of his "history of anger". He either take the drug or lose his electric scooter.

Richard developed a persistent case of diarrhea, a side effect of the drug. A mattress that I had purchased for him so he would be more comfortable, had to be disposed of as he had an accident in his bed.

On Saturday, May 17, the Home was concerned about a low oxygen saturation and had him transferred to Metro Health. In the ER that morning, it was discovered that he still had a slight case of pneumonia. They treated it aggressively with antibiotics. No mention was given to the staff at Metro about the intestinal issue. Richard and I were told that he would be there over the weekend as they were confident that the pneumonia would be reversed.

On Monday evening, I went up to see Richard and his abdomen was severely extended. Metro had him on a no food or liquid intake, hoping to solve this problem. That night, Richard aspirated. His colon had shut down and everything was backed up into his abdomen and now was in his lungs.

I received a phone call from his guardian Tuesday morning that it was decision making time. Either he be allowed to die in peace or they remove the colon. I insisted on talking with a doctor as I made preparations to go to the hospital.
She wanted me to tell her my decision which I couldn't do until I talked with a doctor.

I arrived at the hospital. I talked with the doctor who admitted him. I talked with his doctors in the ICU and a surgeon. It was decided that we would give Richard a fighting chance and all parties involved agreed on the removal of his colon.

The surgery was a success. From all signs, Richard was going to be okay. Everybody was optimistic.

I left the hospital about 9:30 that Tuesday night with hope.

I received a phone call at 12:13 Wednesday morning to inform me that after 90 minutes of trying to revive my husband, he was gone. My husband of over 25 years of marriage, was dead.

On his death certificate, the cause of death is C-Diff.  This is a direct result of the drug Depakote.  A drug that the medical staff at the Home insisted he take.  Demanded he take.  Who is accountable for this?

Over the past four years, I have tried many times to contact members of the State legislature about all that has happened to my husband and family.  My phone calls and e-mails were ignored, repeatedly.  I am hoping now, that this Committee, as a whole, will use their power and their ability to make significant changes at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

The Home killed my husband. No doubt in my mind or the minds of our sons as well as many others that this is what happened here. You can't save my husband. He is with God.   What happened to my husband is also happening to other veterans at the Home.

My questions to you are this. Can you .... are you willing ..... to save other veterans from the same fate that killed my husband?  Are you willing to do something to ensure this does not happen to any other veteran in the future?
My sons and I are demanding that somebody be held accountable for the murder of my husband and their father.

As members of our State Legislature, you have the power to make changes in how our veterans are being treated at this Home. You have the power to stop guardian abuse. The Court has only added to the problem by appointing guardians who are abusing our veterans.  This needs to stop.  Can we count on your help?

Monday, June 13, 2016

State legislature has hearing at Grand Rapids Home for Veterans to hear Veterans concerns.

The State of Michigan House of Representatives joint committee made up of the members of the House ethics committee and the Military affairs oversight committee met today at the Grand Rapids home for veterans to give those members and their families who could not go to Lansing to testify, a chance to be heard. 

As expected the homes list of speakers was ignored and the people wishing to speak had to fill out a little card, like you do when you go to Lansing.

No one screened the speakers before they were allowed to speak. This resulted in about 5 speakers rambling on about things that had nothing to do with what this joint committee could act upon, and the topic the speakers talked about should have been handled by the member council. 

One guy in a powered wheelchair, rambled on for 15 minutes, repeating himself time and time again about the main dining room chow service line exit and how members were ignoring the one way sign, and entering the exit area to get refills of their juice drinks. That guy should never have been allowed to waste the Congress’s time. And we have written about the chow hall problem on this blog, so this mans complaints are old news. 

Others came up and complained about things we already know about – lack of staffing, poor staffing, J2S problems, etc. 

Acting pro tem Nursing Unit Council president Ken spoke about how things have taken a turn for the better, but that we have just started that, and that it will take time to return the facility to being the HOME for veterans that it once was. 

Throughout the morning, people made it clear, that there is a BIG difference between the Frank Snarski, Sara Dunne and now the Leslie and Scott administrations, and that the home suffered greatly under Sara Dunne. One comment made was that Sara ran the home as if it were a FOR profit business, and that a Veterans home cannot be run that way. 

Another complaint covered by at least 3 veterans, was that 100 percent service connected veterans are being charged extra money for things the VA should be covering, like transportation to and from doctor appointments that cannot be done at the home. 

Also, lack of proper action by the homes medical staff, leading to the deaths of several veterans. Wayne from Dom unit, talked about lack of medical treatment for one veteran named Dean, and how the home failed to address a safety issue with a former driver for the home. All of which happened under the Dunne administration. He also gave written testimony about his own recent medical problems at the home. 

Tony M., also from Dorm unit, talked about nursing for the Dorm unit, and how we went from 3 nursed down to 1. He complained about the nurse they now have and said that the guys call her “It ain’t my job Cathy”. She is a long time state worker who transferred to the vets home from the state prison system and has on several occasions called the veterans “inmates”. He also said that she has told a number of veterans that with her seniority and as a member of the UAW union, she would have to kill someone to be able to be fired. Tony said the first word in caregiver is care, and if you don’t care as Cathy seems not to, you should not be at that home. 

Also the Guardian issue was brought up by several speakers. Talk of several ways the guardians abuse their charges (the veterans) and how the home has made a lot of use of the guardian program. Not a lot of detail, but enough to know this is a subject that need to be looked at in more detail, and I will do so in another post.

The speakers talked about the fees the guardians charged, and how they wasted Veterans monies without being held account able for it. Consensus was that the courts have allowed those guardians to financially rape the Veterans. 

Cheryel Ware, Widow of Richard Ware, was the first to bring up the guardian issue when she took the mic and told the legislature that the home murdered her husband, by way of guardian and drugs that Richard did not need. She precisely described what happened to Richard and how the Administrations use of the guardian program, which is used on many veterans at the home, caused his death. Her testimony will appear in full, here and on our main blog page. Congressional Representative Holly who represents the district Cheryel lives in was present at this hearing. It was Holly’s office that failed to give help to the Ware’s when her office was asked to help them.

Also Mark Suttons, the American Legion person who at the last hearing in Lansing said that not everyone thought the home was a prison, was present when Cheryl told the committee that Richard became a prisoner to the guardian and her accomplices - the court system, but he walked out during her testimony and I believe did not listen to it.

The guardian named Cynthia Thornberry was Richard Ware’s court appointed guardian was present at todays hearing, but was not present during Cheryels testimony. Missing was Richards counselor, Karen Fugi who is on maternity leave, and who is the one whom requested Richard be assigned a Guardian over Cheryels objections. FYI, Karen Fugi also got guardians for many of the veterans under her care. This was done during the Sara Dunne administration.

Cheryel also described how the guardian was able to use the veterans own money to pay for things the veteran did not want, like lawyers fees for a divorce that never happened, and when the veteran tried to have the guardian removed, how the court allowed the guardian to use the veterans own money to pay for lawyer fees to represent the guardian. That is like forcing the victim of a crime to pay for the criminal’s defense attorney. This is veteran abuse. The court was the Kent County Family court and the judge in this case was David Murkowski about whom we have written about on the main blog page. 

And veteran abuse by guardians was talked about a lot. Another lady talked about the guardian assigned to her father, and how the family member is not being informed of things she needs to know. She says they are not telling her when her dad gets sent to the hospital and what for. She finds out 3rd hand after the fact. Also her father’s burial wishes were ignored and the guardian named Hawthorne bought a burial plot and a prepaid burial package for a man who wanted to be cremated and his ashes spread over Fort Custer.

Andy Balls granddaughter and lawyer testified about his unnecessary death at the home. This case is in the courts now. Andy Ball was the WWII vet with Alzheimer’s who got beaten to death by another Alzheimer veteran because the staff did not do its job properly.

Tony Spalone, who filed the first court case against the state for removing the state care givers, filed another complaint with the legislatures about rotating care givers, so that a veteran has to train a new one every day. He also mentioned that while Michigan is one of the top 10 states to provide people to the Military, we are last in getting those veterans the help they need after service, and that it needs to change. 

Apparently their might be a “no competition” contract with J2S workers. J2S has told its workers that they cannot quit and be hired by one of the other nursing Unit care provider companies, but would have to wait 6 months before they could be hired by another company. Someone asked if that was legal. And one of the congressional representatives said it was. 

We thank the State Legislatures for taking the time and traveling to the Grand Rapids home for veterans to give the veterans a chance to be heard. Chairman McBroom said they will also be going to the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette Michigan soon so that they will have a chance to be heard as well.