Comments made by State Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, about the controversy surrounding the St. Louis Veterans Home are not sitting well with Republican Governor Eric Greitens. He’s calling on the Missouri Veterans Commission to remove its executive director, Larry Kay, and the home’s administrator, Rolando Carter. On Monday, Greitens released findings of an independent investigation of the St. Louis facility that revealed some residents are suffering from malnutrition, bed sores, and medications are not being given on time.
In a Missourinet interview this week, Schupp said the findings don’t necessarily take into consideration that people have minds of their own. Schupp, along with other legislators, a retired hospital administrator and a nursing home leader, made an unannounced visit last week to the nursing home.
“Sometimes things happen where a person refuses to take his medication, refuses to allow you to change his clothing or refuses to drink water even though you’re trying to make it available,” Schupp said. “There are some concerns about people getting medication in a timely fashion, people sitting in soiled clothing, people not having eaten what they were supposed to eat, their nutrition levels or their hydration levels.”
A written statement from Greitens condemns Schupp’s comments.
“In other words, she blamed these veterans for their own mistreatment and said that their families—who’d been complaining for months about the treatment of their loved ones—were wrong,” said Greitens. “This home was investigated. That investigation took a whole month. It included nine separate site visits, 144 interviews with family, staff, and veterans, and a thorough look at patient charts and data. How did Jill Schupp conclude that veterans might be refusing to have their own dirty clothes changed? She had a “pleasant visit” with the person who runs the home.”
Greitens announced this week that he has replaced five members of the commission. A meeting of the nine-member panel is underway today and is likely to include whether to fire Kay and Carter. Schupp said she thinks the panel needs adequate time to make a fair judgement call.
“Let’s make sure we know what we’re talking about,” says Schupp.
The investigation’s summary was given to Schupp. She requested the full report. According to her chief of staff, the roughly 60-page full report was emailed to her around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
Schupp also said she’s concerned that Greitens could be replacing Missouri Veterans Commission members like he did to the State Board of Education.
“This is very much like what happened at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education where the governor kept replacing members of that commission until he got a group willing to fire the person at the helm,” says Schupp. “This is a pattern of behavior we’re seeing with the governor, whether it’s with the veterans or education. These are pretty critical groups that I care deeply about. The idea that the governor is going to come in and make decisions based on what he wants an outcome to be is very concerning to me.”
Greitens fired back with disgust.
“How did Jill Schupp react when she saw what the investigation turned up? She said we needed to slow down and called our actions on behalf of veterans and their families “very concerning.” This is why people don’t trust liberal politicians. They defend big government, even when big government is indefensible. The independent investigation showed that government failed veterans. But Senator Schupp blames the veterans themselves for bureaucrats’ failures. It’s exactly this kind of nonsense that made so many veterans and their family members angry. They were right to be angry.”
Greitens’ statement led to an additional exchange from Schupp.
“As a daughter of a Marine veteran, I have a deep love and appreciation for the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. As a State Senator, I have an obligation and responsibility to ensure that our Veterans Homes are providing safe, quality care. I’m deeply disappointed that the Governor would use our veterans to try and score political points. They are heroes and they deserve better.”
A noteworthy twist is that Schupp supports Greitens’ call to remove Kay, who has been the focus of a court battle involving accusations of gender and age discrimination against his workers – leading to millions in legal costs to Missouri taxpayers. She’s been mulling over the fate of Carter.
Greitens has launched investigations into all of the state’s veterans homes.
Missourinet is covering the outcome of the commission’s meeting.