Earlier this week, former Michigan state legislator Jason Allen told UP Matters reporter Brittany Denny that he is “troubled” by the recent reports of disabled veterans in the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans suffering under the atrociously inadequate care provided by J2S Group. J2S Group is the for-profit healthcare corporation that was the beneficiary of Gov. Snyder’s privatization scheme that would carve over $4 million out of the healthcare facility’s budget for nurses aides and other support staff. “I’m very troubled about the findings of the report and I trust that the Governor and the Board of Managers will take the appropriate steps to ensure that care improves for our veterans and they get the care they deserve,” he told Denny.
Allen, who is running for Congress in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District, neglected to mention that he was, in fact, one of the people responsible for the firing of 170 union caregivers who had worked at the veterans home until they were replaced by J2S Group employees who make far less in wages than the original staff. Allen was hired to be the senior deputy director of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in January of 2011. Later that year, he oversaw the privatization scheme:
A tough day for more than a hundred state workers in Grand Rapids. They were told they won’t have a job much longer at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. It’s part of a move by Governor Rick Snyder’s office to privatize care at the facility and save the state millions of dollars.
In all, 170 caregivers were called into a meeting and received pink slips, a move the governor’s office says will save around $4 million.
The people laid off are caregivers who work directly with the veterans, doing things like moving them or helping with their activities. They’ll be replaced by employees from the private staffing company J2S Healthcare Force. The changeover will happen at the end of September.
J2S Healthcare Force bid on the job. To be eligible, they had to fulfill certain requirements from the state when it comes to employee training and experience.
“In the beginning of the decade we were eight in per capita income, now we’re 40 and unfortunately there’s some tough decisions that need to be made by legislators and the governor’s office. Our role is to implement those, as difficult as that may be, and make sure we maintain quality of care,” said Senior Deputy Director for Veterans Affairs Jason Allen.
Those “tough decisions” have led to a wide array of complaints about J2S Group. Here are some of the more egregious things reported after J2S Group took over:
- An invalid veteran fell off of the bed and broke his neck, after a contract Certified nurses assistant (CNA) left him on the bed, unsecure, and left the room.
- A contract CNA fed a veteran by mouth, when there were specific instructions (including a sign above his bed) indicating that the veteran was not to be fed by mouth. Later, the contract CNA pulled the feeding tube out of the veteran’s stomach – the veteran was hospitalized.
- A veteran was injured when a contract CNA was trying to transfer him from the sling to a wheel chair.
- A contract CNA broke the fingers of a veteran, and bragged about it.
- Veterans being dropped by contract CNAs repeatedly.
- Veterans being left in urine-soaked beds for hours on end.
- Contract CNAs literally walking off during their shift, never to return that shift and abandoning the veterans.
- Mandatory checks to be sure members living at the GRHV were present were not done 43% of the time.
- Mandatory checks of the fall-alarm system were not done a full third (33%) of the time.
- The mandatory number of staff on duty was not maintained 81% of the time.
- Non-narcotic prescriptions were refilled too early for reimbursement, costing the facility up to $186,000.
- Non-narcotic prescriptions were refilled too late, meaning that the Home could not ensure that the medications were administered appropriately.
- 25 and 59% of the Home members’ mandated comprehensive care plans were not completed timely and sufficiently, respectively.
- No inventory system was in place to keep track of $2.7 million worth of non-narcotic prescriptions dispensed each year.
- Nearly a half million dollars of non-narcotic prescription claims were not followed up on and another almost half million dollars worth of prescriptions were never charged to the members’ insurance companies.
- 91 complaints were filed by members and all were reported to the involved departments’ manager in violation of standard protocol, “severely compromising the controls inherent within an effective complaint process.
- 38 of the complaints involved abuse and neglect situations. Nine of them were never reported to the director of nursing as required.
- A quarter of the 91 complaints were responded to late and the Home did not maintain a tracking log of complaints that were filed.
- Around $168,000 of members’ funds were not properly dispersed after they were discharged or had died and, when they were dispersed, they were dispersed as much as seven months late in some cases.
This scandalous and tragic treatment of these vulnerable heroes is the direct result of Jason Allen’s work. For him to now say he’s “troubled” by it is the height of hypocrisy. What impact did he think reducing the staffing budget for the veterans home by over $4 million was going to have? Did he really think they’d be able to “maintain quality of care” under those circumstances?
Jason Allen is running for Congress, presumably to solve problems. In truth, Allen is not the solution to our state’s problems, he is actually PART of the problem.
Perhaps the most disgusting part about this part of the story is that Allen is himself a veteran. I wonder what the men and women who live in the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans would say to him if they had the chance…
Read all our coverage of this sad and completely avoidable tragedy HERE.