Persistence by family members of residents at the Missouri Veterans Home in north St. Louis County appears to have paid off. During a Monday news conference at the facility in Bellefontaine Neighbors, Governor Eric Greitens has announced that an independent investigation found “serious problems” at the home. The investigation conducted by the private-sector firm, Harmony Healthcare International, was launched by the Governor’s office. The move came after two previous investigations by the Missouri Veterans Commission and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found no wrongdoing.
“Big government failed these veterans. The Missouri Veterans Commission and VA told us that there was nothing wrong with these homes. Based on what the families told us, however, we were still concerned. So we launched an independent investigation. It found failures at the St. Louis Veterans Home that the VA and Missouri Veterans Commission missed or ignored,” says Greitens.
“We hold leaders responsible. Missouri’s veterans—our neighbors, friends, parents, and grandparents–were being hurt. When people are being hurt, and bureaucrats fail to act, fail to listen, and offer only excuses, we’re going to find out, and they are going to be fired.” Greitens adds.
Malnutrition, bed sores, and medications not being given on time were among the problems found in the investigation.
The report has prompted Greitens to implement changes. Greitens has launched full investigations into each of Missouri’s other veterans homes and has replaced all five of the Jay Nixon administration’s appointees to the Missouri Veterans Commission. Greitens is also calling for the removal of Larry Kay as the Executive Director of the Missouri Veterans Commission and for Rolando Carter, the administrator of the home, to be fired.
The governor has appointed Dr. John “Bucky” Buckner, Dr. José Dominguez, Meredith Knopp, Tim Noonan, and Tim Smith to the Missouri Veterans’ Commission.
This past July, the Governor’s office received reports of mistreatment and substandard care at the St. Louis Veterans Home. Greitens called for an immediate investigation by The Missouri Veterans Commission. The MVC reported that they were unable to find evidence confirming the allegations.
The governor then instructed the Department of Public Safety to follow up, looking for any criminal misconduct. At the conclusion of its work, the Department of Public Safety advised Greitens to call in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct another full and complete investigation.
The governor then requested an investigation from the VA. The VA concluded that the St. Louis Veterans Home met all quality thresholds.
Based on concerns raised by family members, Greitens felt it was necessary to have an independent party conduct an investigation.
By Missourinet contributor Jill Enders