Vern Buchanan: VA Needs to Examine How Veterans Treated in Nursing Homes

With media reports finding veterans being harmed at VA run nursing homes around the country, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., is calling for answers.

This week, Buchanan pointed to recent reports in USA Today and other outlets that veterans were being harmed at VA nursing homes in more than 20 states.

“The report cited veterans moaning for lack of adequate medication to a dementia patient whose foot was stuck in his wheelchair for hours as staff walked by without offering any assistance,” the congressman’s office noted. “Some of the most disturbing revelations found that many facilities failed to prevent and control infections, that two out of three nursing homes didn’t follow simple protocols such as wearing gloves and gowns when treating patients as well as exposing veterans to hazardous conditions at dozens of VA nursing homes.”

With almost 90,000 veterans in his district, Buchanan wrote U.S. VA Sec. Robert Wilkie on the matter on Monday.

“I am writing to you today in light of an explosive new report detailing horrific conditions at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) nursing homes across the nation,” Buchanan wrote.”According to an article by USA Today and The Boston Globe, surprise inspections form a private contractor found widespread and systemic failures at more than 50 VA nursing homes across the country. In fact, inspectors cited a staggering 52 out of 99 nursing homes they examined for failures that caused ‘actual harm’ to veterans.

“In one disturbing case, inspectors at a Massachusetts facility witnessed a dementia patient whose foot was stuck in a wheelchair for hours as staff walked past the man without offering any assistance. Other observed locations in Ohio and Maine saw veterans audibly suffering from a lack of adequate medication. Even more shocking, water used for bathing and washing hands at several locations was so dangerously hot (up to 128 degrees) that it could scald veterans. And at yet another location, inspectors found that they had no functioning call system for residents to summon caregivers,” Buchanan added.

“Other disturbing revelations found that many facilities failed to prevent and control infections, that two out of three nursing homes didn’t follow simple protocols such as wearing gloves and gowns when treating patients as well as exposing veterans to hazardous conditions at dozens of VA nursing homes,” Buchanan continued. “These examples paint a very dark and nightmarish picture of a broken system that is failing our brave men and women who selflessly served our nation in uniform. Even more disturbing, this is not the first time we have learned about grossly unsatisfactory conditions at VA nursing homes. In fact, last June I called for a Congressional investigation to get to the bottom of similar revelations.

“We need accountability and transparency at the VA once and for all. Every agency employee needs to fulfill their duty and uphold the VA mission ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle.’ The continued abuses of veterans at these nursing homes is disgraceful and unacceptable,” Buchanan wrote.

“That is why I am requesting a detailed explanation for these disgraceful conditions and the steps the agency will take to rectify them. The 50,000 nursing home patients across America deserve nothing short of exceptional care and respect. This report clearly demonstrates that we are falling short of that commitment to our veterans,” the congressman wrote in conclusion. “I appreciate your unwavering dedication in support of America’s veterans and look forward to your prompt response on this critical matter.”

 

Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.

 

 

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