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.