Mercury News publised an article from Oakland Tribune about a lawsuit filed by the family of a man neglected at a nursing home run by Fairmont Hospital. In July 2011, after Rahn Hoskia suffered a stroke and lost the use of his right side, he had to be admitted to a nursing home for short term rehabilitation.  However, due to neglect, a pressure ulcer developed leading to an infection so severe that the Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War lost his leg.

Doctors only discovered the infected pressure ulcer condition when he was transferred to Eden Medical Center’s emergency room on Nov. 28, 2011. “There, staff unwrapped the bandage on his left foot and found two infected wounds whose stench “enveloped the room,” according to a lawsuit filed by his wife for “reckless or willful neglect.”  Doctors had to amputate his gangrenous foot to save his life. The pressure sores would have had to have festered for at least three weeks in order to have reached such a dire stage.  They had to take the leg below the knee because the infection had spread from his foot into the bone and into his blood, causing kidney failure, according to the lawsuit and a California Department of Public Health inspection report from April 2012.”

The state fined the facility $15,000 in April 2012 and its investigation corroborated Hoskins’ claims about his treatment at Fairmont, a taxpayer-funded hospital. State records from a previous inspection also show a pattern of neglect and understaffing endured by others at the San Leandro facility.

“I was learning to walk one day and the next thing I knew I was in the hospital, and my foot was gone,” Hoskins said.  Hoskins and his wife complained about Fairmont staff about being left sitting for hours, sitting in soiled adult diapers, and ignoring his call bell. State Public Health Department investigators had already documented similar complaints at Fairmont during a May 3, 2011, inspection.

Is this how our veterans should be treated?

The Grand Rapids Press had a story about the tragic incident involving Matthew Ambrose. On Sept. 12, Matthew Ambrose perched at the edge of his bed at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.  Staff knew Ambrose was a high risk for falls because he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, has a poor sense of balance and could not be left unattended when he was in a position where he could fall.

A privately contracted nurses aide sat the World War II veteran on the side of his bed and left the room to retrieve a lift apparatus to transport him from his bed into a wheelchair. When she returned, Ambrose was on the floor with his neck broken.  "The Ambrose lawsuit claims the contracted nurses aide should have known Ambrose was a risk to leave alone. According to the suit, Ambrose has dementia, Parkinson’s disease and "a history of falling," worsened by prescription medications that make him "even more prone to falling." Ambrose now resides in a Grand Rapids nursing home, where Eskola visits him virtually every day. After his fall, Eskola said, her father had surgery at Metro Health Hospital in which a surgeon inserted a metal screw to stabilize a neck bone broken by the fall."

His daughter, Janice Eskola, believes her father’s fall represents more than one unfortunate incident at the home. It is about putting budget priorities ahead of the welfare of men and women who served their country. "State officials insist budget pressures afford them little choice but to trim expenses because of a $4.2 million cut in state funds to the home and stalled plans to replace 170 union nurses aides with non-union contract workers. "

Gov. Rick Snyder intends to extend privatization in the 2012 budget for the home, at an estimated savings of up to $5.8 million a year. State funds to the home were cut by $4.2 million in anticipation of that move.



In honor of Memorial Day and all our veterans, I thought I would share Anne Hart’s column from the Sacramento Organizing Examiner which discussed assistance for veterans such as such as "a sizable cash benefits check each month– if you or a spouse of a veteran are frail and need in-home help. 

The article emphasizes that you don’t have to pay anyone or invest money to get your long-term care veterans benefits. Unfortunately there’s typically a waiting list to get into nursing homes for veterans.  Did you know that if you’re a veteran, help is available–?

Bob Scrivano is an independent senior care planning consultant quoted in the article. Also see the site, Veterans America: Improving Pension Benefits and Assets & Aging. The basic message is that you have to organize now what you want to have happen to your home or any other assets you have, and you have to act on any plan of what to do if you or any family member becomes in need of in-home or nursing home care.

What you need to know is what you’re entitled to, how not to lose your home when the state tries to take it away to pay for nursing home or medical bills, or what to watch out for as you act on your plan. 

"If you’re married to a veteran or are a veteran and are looking for veteran’s benefits for long-term care or in-home care for an older person who needs assisted living, such as someone coming into the home to care for the older person, watch out for scams and schemes. There’s too many people being mailed information about VA benefits for long-term care that requires you to invest in something or pay for something. You don’t have to buy anything."

Visit the Department of Veterans Affairs to download a Veterans Benefits fact sheet or call the VA at 1-800-827-1000 to obtain information about available services in your area. And check out the Veterans Health Administration to view available programs and services.