Grand Rapids Home for Veterans administrator resigns

Administrator Scott Blakeney submitted his letter of resignation on Friday

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - For the second time in less than a year the top administrator at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans is resigning.

Administrator Scott Blakeney submitted his letter of resignation on Friday.

“Under his leadership, there have been major improvements to how we care for our veterans and their families," Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Direcor James Robert Redford wrote in a prepared release. "His engaging leadership, tremendous team building skills and overall management acumen has resulted in substantial, lasting improvements."

“It has been an honor to serve our veterans alongside some of the finest volunteers and most dedicated employees I have ever known,” Blakeney wrote in the release. “Their tireless commitment to care for the home’s members has been an inspiration to me.

"The improvements that have been made at GRHV that have increased the health, safety, dignity and quality of life for hundreds of veterans are in large part thanks to the amazing employees I’ve had the privilege of working with at the Home, MVAA and at many veterans organizations."

Blakeney wrote in a letter to members: "I am submitting my resignation to spend more time with family and other matters requiring my attention.

Redford announced that Michigan Veteran Health System COO Steve Rolston will serve as the interim Grand Rapids Home for Veterans administrator until a permanent replacement can be hired.

“Steve’s experience, both as a leader at MVHS and from his previous work in senior living, coupled with his understanding of the long-term care needs of today’s veterans will be of great benefit to GRHV members and staff,” Redford said.

“I can think of no better person to lead GRHV during this transition and continue the positive changes that we are making at the home. We are all grateful for Steve’s willingness to step up and fill this interim role while we begin the process of finding a permanent replacement.”

Former Home for Veterans administrator Leslie Shanlian resigned in November 2016 to pursue opportunities in the private sector. 

It's been a rocky few months at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. 

Last month, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged close to a dozen former caregivers with falsifying medical records. Schuette 's investigation was prompted by a Michigan Office of the Auditor General report, released in February 2016, showing some embarrassing problems at that facility. 

►Related: 11 employees at Grand Rapids Home for Veterans charged with crimes

The report indicated the veterans living at the facility were suffering because of a lack of staffing.  It also indicated executives at the Home for Veterans didn't properly investigate allegations of abuse and neglect.  The audit also spotlighted the issue of caregivers not checking on members when they were supposed to be watching them.

Earlier this month, four Grand Rapids Home for Veterans members were involuntarily discharged after selling non-taxed cigarettes inside the home. Blakeney sent a letter to one of the members involved indicating "the discharge decision is based on your participation in the illegal selling of cigarettes while residing at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans".

Finally, former caregiver Laurie Botbyl will be on trial next Thursday on a vulnerable adult abuse charge. Botbyl was accused of pushing a veteran in his wheelchair into a desk, injuring him in March 2016. 

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