More than 30 veterans will be forced to relocate from a Washington VA after an outside review raised concerns about the quality of care and an internal audit validated those concerns. The Long Term Care Institute was contracted by the VA nationally to review nursing homes around the country. A surprise inspection at the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center on raised immediate concerns about the physical infrastructure of the nursing building. Concerns included sloping floors and patients’ access to doors and stairwells. The review was also critical of control of medication and the competence of nursing staff inserting intravenous catheter lines.
“We had to do the right thing for patients, and if we can’t provide care that is equal to or better than the private sector, we shouldn’t be doing it. So we had to shut it down,” medical director DeAnn Dietrich said.
Established in 1858 on an 84-acre campus at Fort Walla Walla, the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center serves an estimated 69,000 veterans in southeastern Washington, northeastern Oregon and northern Idaho. The center has 66 beds for acute care, nursing, psychiatric and substance abuse treatment. Thirty beds are devoted to nursing. Inspectors raised concerns about patients’ access to doors and stairwells at the end of long, blind corridors, as well as the aging building’s sloping floors and narrow doors and hallways.
“While the building is seismically up to code, it’s not adequate and it doesn’t meet anyone’s idea of what a long-term care facility should look like,” Dietrich said. “We also realized the clinical competency issues weren’t isolated. We did have staff doing some good work, but we didn’t have a good system for ongoing training, documentation.”
The medical center has a plan in place to address the immediate concerns and is conducting a feasibility study to determine if it should be reopened, according to Dietrich. It is unfortunate that the facility is forcing residents to relocate, but the facility must be applauded for hiring an outside company to conduct a report and for acting on the reports findings. If this facility were to remain open, there is little doubt the safety of the nursing home residents would be compromised.
For laws related to Washington nursing homes, look here.