Today, many veterans who bravely fought in battles to defend our country are reliant on the Veterans Administration for care necessitated by injury, disability and old age. Unfortunately, abuse and neglect still occurs in these VA operated facilities– just as is does in privately controlled counterparts.
I was disturbed to read a recent article describing the horrific living conditions of vets living in a Veterans Affairs Nursing Home in Philadelphia. The pattern of poor care was so prominent, a private company, the Long Term Care Institute, was hired to investigate the living conditions and medical treatment rendered at the facility.
Although the facility only cared for 120 Veterans– half of its rated capacity of 240, the Long Term Care Institute concluded the facility, “failed to provide sanitary and safe environment for their residents.” The report went on to say that, “[t]here was a significant failure to protect their residents’ rights to autonomy and to be treated with respect and dignity.”
If the conditions described in the report are accurate, I think we all should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing our most courageous citizens to live in such conditions. Among the disgusting conditions documented by investigators include:
- A Veteran’s foot had become so infected with maggots, it required amputation
- Veteran who suffered from extreme weight loss for no reason
- Unsanitary conditions- dried blood on feeding tuns that were left on the floor
Three months before this external investigation was initiated, the Veterans Affair Nursing Home set upon its own internal investigation after a mute and disabled Vietnam Veteran choked to death on solid food— despite the fact that he was on a ‘soft food’ diet. Consequently, two agency nurses were terminated and other staff members were given additional training on patients with swallowing difficulties.
As a nursing home lawyer who has seen some of the worst of the worst, I believe the more attention these dangerous facilities receive– the faster change will come about. I will be contacting my legislators to make them aware of problems in VA facilities. Don’t our Veterans deserve better?
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