Veterans Home undergoes evaluation
During December of last year, amidst allegations of abuse and neglect at the St. Louis Veterans Home, Governor Eric Greitens called for an investigation into all Missouri Veterans Homes by the Department of Public Safety.
The Missouri Department of Public Safety was in the Veterans Home in Cameron in mid December to speak at length with staff, visitors, volunteers, residents, family members, anyone who has any contact with or involvement in the home about the conditions and practices of the Veterans Home in Cameron to be certain the allegations made about the St. Louis home did not exist in the home.
According to Brad Haggard, Administrator of the Cameron Veteran’s Home when there is a complaint or a concern made by anyone to the home, the very first thing they do is interview the person who brought the complaint or concern to be certain the home completely understands.
“You have to listen to them and maybe decipher what the real concern is,” Haggard said.
Then they move to looking at the department or staff involved in the concern and figure out if it is a staff or process problem. From there they make an action plan to address the concern, then develop a plan to be certain whatever correction was made remains in place, then continue to monitor the situation to be certain it doesn’t happen again. Unless it is a personnel or confidential matter, they cannot give details to the person who brought the complaint, but if it is a system or process concern they do communicate with the person who brought the complaint to let them know how it was addressed and what steps were taken to fix it.
According to Haggard, official complaints or grievances don’t happen very often, less than a handful a year, but every single concern is addressed with the same importance as the next.
An example of some of which happen more often are complaints such as: it took longer to get the meal today than it does usually. So they talk to the dietary manager to discover why it may have occurred and monitor the situation to see if it was a one time issue or if something needs correcting.
“Some of the issues come when expectations are different, waiting five minutes to one person might feel like an hour to another. We do everything possible to meet the needs of the Veterans and to give them what they want. If they want a grilled cheese sandwich every day for lunch, we will fix them a grilled cheese sandwich every day for lunch. We just try to find ways to say yes to whatever their request is, no matter to what it is, “ Haggard said.
During the St. Louis investigation, Mo Senator Jill Schupp made comments about the Veterans having minds of their own and may choose not to take their meds on time, change their clothing or eat what they are supposed to.
Haggard said the Veterans do have the right to refuse treatment, this is their home, if they don’t want to take a bath, perhaps they are taking a spit bath, or a sponge bath, but they don’t want to take a tub bath. The staff monitors the Veteran to see be certain they are not having any skin issues, doesn’t smell, isn’t offending the other Veterans. Of course the staff will continue to monitor the situation and see if there is a way to help the Veteran say yes. There are some Veterans who enjoy a particular burger, or have a particular staff member they are more likely to work with, or they can call in family members to get convince the Veteran to go ahead with the action they are refusing.
“This is their home,” Haggard said. “We try to be respectful of that and respectful of them.”
When asked about the rumors, which are currently only rumors, there has been nothing official, concerning the privatization of the Veterans Home, Haggard said he has worked in the private sector and it appears to be about the bottom line.
“With the Veterans homes, it is about care and services. I think we are providing great care at this home and it because of our system we have in place,” Haggard said.
Haggard went on to say they report monthly to the commission and have many good processes in place in the State of Missouri.
Of the evaluation, Haggard said the public perception of Veterans homes is not likely to be very favorable right now if they have never been in one, but people who have frequented the Cameron Veterans Home seem to hold it in very high regard.
There was no information on how soon the Veterans home might have a report on the evaluation.
“I love to show this home to anyone who comes in, “Haggard said. “We have some amazing Veterans who live here that have served our country, we owe them everything we can give them and I think we do that in Cameron. If you have a question about it, come see our home, come talk to our Veterans, come talk to our staff, come see the amazing things that are here everyday.”