Sadness and death: Inside the VA’s state nursing-home disaster
[ Editor’s Note: Color me not surprised at this horror story. Right from the start I spotted that the states wanted local control over these VA nusing homes so the contracting could be parceled out to the politically connected.
The Feds just loved having an organizational structure where it was easier to pass the responsibility buck to when problems arose. As Covid swept through them quickly in the beginning, it revealed a disaster that had just been waiting to happen.
And because our disgraced former president Trump told us the virus ‘would just go away someday’, despite his having told Bob Woodward that he knew it was passed by breath droplets, no one wanting to accept any responsibility for the severity of disaster due to lack of preparation and clear lines of repsonsibility. Imagine that.
At the time the VA nursing home sitatuation was viewed as a worst case scenario for Covid. None of us could have foreseen what awaited us down the road where once vaccinates were finally available that a culture war would erupt as to their long term consequences.
Mask shortages and limited vaccine supplies have been replaced my mask bannings being imposed and vaccinations refused for a whole list of concerns, including their only being under an emergency use license, and the potential long term health risks.
The good news is that as hospital ICU beds fill up and the death notices hit the local newspapers, vaccines are increasing, with a one claim of a million being done one day last week. Or maybe it was Trump telling people at his Alabama rally to get the jab, were boos we heard in response… Jim W. Dean ]
First published … August 24, 2021
For years, the Veterans Affairs has spent upwards of $1 billion a year funding state-run nursing homes for veterans, while requiring only a single annual safety inspection, performed by an outside contractor.
Just months before the pandemic bore down, the GAO in 2019 warned that the VA inspections lack teeth, merely making recommendations about some deficiencies instead of meticulously documenting them and requiring that they be addressed.
…Residents in state VA homes often died in large clusters: 110 at a 126-bed home in western New York, 62 (plus two staff) in one at the southern tip of Maryland, 47 at a complex in rural Wisconsin, 44 near the shore of Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio. More than half the deaths occurred well into the pandemic, after testing, protective gear and other resources became more available
“For a long time the state veterans homes were neglected,” said Linda Schwartz, a former Air Force flight nurse who ran veterans affairs for the state of Connecticut and served as a high-level VA official in the Obama administration. “It’s been terrible — and in some ways shameful — that veterans were in this situation,” added Schwartz, who monitored the pandemic as part of a task force with the Vietnam Veterans of America.
Jim W. Dean Archives 2009-2014