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Hearings, action requested on issues at Grand Rapids veteran home

Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency

Legislators call for change after a state audit released Friday finds multiple issues at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

The Michigan Office of the Auditor General report says the facility failed to properly handle complaints - including those for abuse and neglect – and provide appropriate medication, comprehensive care, and mandated staffing level needs.

It also cites the veterans’ home for having not actually provided more than a third of resident safety and welfare checks, despite center documentation indicating they’d occurred.

"It's simply unacceptable that we allow our veterans to be treated this way," Representative Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) says in a statement. "It is clear that the care of the residents at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans is not what it should be, and the people who are entrusted with their care are downplaying or hiding these incidents rather than making the situation right."

The audit also finds more than a third of nonnarcotic prescriptions were found to have been refilled late or more than five days early, and notes a lack of staff controls in place for protecting or keeping track of those medications.

Financial concerns were additionally raised, including effective distribution of discharged or deceased member funds.

The office says the report was culled from a 23-month review of conditions at the Grand Rapids facility, which housed 389 residents as of last August.

Brinks and other legislators are requesting state hearings on the audit's findings.

"Now is not the time for talk. It’s time to take action," Senator and veteran's affairs committee Minority Vice Chair David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) says in a statement. "Joint investigative hearings, with subpoena power, are necessary and should be held at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans so that we can immediately hear from staff members and patients."

Four objectives were assessed: member care services, administration of drugs, management of complaints and incidents and overall control of funding.

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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