Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation Wednesday, Oct. 26, requiring more reporting and more accountability to ensure veterans get the best care possible at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans
Snyder signed a bill requiring quarterly reports on the conditions of state veterans’ homes in Marquette and Grand Rapids.
“Our state’s veterans deserve the highest standards of care available, and this bill helps ensure that the conditions of veterans’ homes are evaluated and reported on more consistently and effectively,” Snyder said.
The 13 Watchdog team has been reporting for months about severe staffing issues inside the facility. Part of the new reporting will be related to how well two new private contractors, CareerStaff Unlimited and Maxim, are staffing the facility.
State agencies will now also have to report patient complaints, how drugs are accounted for, how patient money is accounted for and will also include the number of deaths at the home.
Much of the new reporting is to answer a blistering state audit that was released last winter that showed terrible staffing issues and many other problems. The audit showed that J2S, the state's former contractor, was short 81 percent of the time over several months surveyed and were down as many as 20 people on some days.
J2S' owner Tim Frain admitted his company didn't fulfill the contract's requirements but blamed a bad workplace environment for creating high turnover causing shortages. Frain told us earlier this year he knew his company was in trouble being able to fulfill contractual standards a few weeks after signing on in 2013 to provide care aides to the facility.
We reported earlier this year there weren't enough people on some shifts to feed the veterans breakfast. That angered many who felt change and better reporting from inside the home was needed.
Director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency James Redford told us this summer that there is greater transparency now than there was a year ago and he didn't expect short-staffing to happen in the future.
There are skeptics though who still believe these private companies will never be able to provide the same level of care that state workers did before they were laid off in 2012.