Inspections find veterans harmed at VA nursing homes in 25 states
Inspectors with a government contractor found veterans were harmed at nursing homes run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in over two dozen states, USA Today reported Thursday.
The inspections, conducted at roughly 100 VA facilities from April through December 2018, found 52 VA nursing homes for deficiencies caused "actual harm" to veterans; three facilities caused "immediate jeopardy" to veterans' health and safety and eight caused both "harm" and "jeopardy" to veterans.
The facilities cited for shortfalls that caused harm are in 25 states, including Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Harm and jeopardy are standard categories of severity in the industry, but non-VA nursing homes are rarely cited for them.
Inspectors found that staff at more than two dozen VA nursing homes failed to take steps to ensure bedsores healed or new ones didn't develop. They can occur when frail people are left in the same position for too long. In Cincinnati, one resident had five bedsores in six months, yet when inspectors visited, they found no one moved the man or put cushions under him for hours.
In a statement issued with the inspection reports this month, VA officials said residents in their nursing homes are more difficult to care for than residents in private facilities. They said 42 percent of residents last year had conditions related to military service that have left them 50 percent or more disabled.
"Overall, VA's nursing home system compares closely with private-sector nursing homes, though the department on average cares for sicker and more complex patients in its nursing homes than do private facilities," VA secretary Robert Wilkie said.
(Cover: A physical therapy aid, helps a WWII navy veteran, exercise during a therapy session.)