Editorial

Veterans Home’s disregard for care is black eye for Michigan

March 25, 2016
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Grand Rapids health care institutions often tout various laurels bestowed upon them by national agencies and nonprofits. Van Andel Institute is a crown jewel atop the Medical Mile creating distinction for the city and creating a leg of the economic development efforts of the entire region — a place where innovation and advancements occur on a daily basis. It is an anchor in the state’s Life Sciences Corridor.

And Grand Rapids also is home to one of two state-run veterans homes where audits and investigations prove the worst of health “care” abuses. Reports from recent hearings recall the nightmares endured by former members of this nation’s armed forces.

Both House and Senate committees with oversight are discussing further hearings — at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans — where they expect to hear from more patients in addition to those who already have testified they witnessed maggots crawl across a patient’s feet; patients who were “punished” for reporting health check and prescription screw-ups; and inadequate staffing levels, among other medical misfeasance reported by media across the state.

State budget cuts amounted to more than $4 million and included privatization of the services, and almost every state legislator from this area approved such cuts and conditions.

It is one more indictment for Michigan government and governmental services entrusted to appointees for favor rather than knowledge and experience in services that are life-and-death matters. Reports and conclusions on complete incompetence regarding the Flint water crisis are top of mind, but crisis after crisis — from abuses in state prisons and government-contracted food services, to state child protective services and public education — comprise a state rap sheet drawing increasing federal inspection and intervention.

When contrasted with the increasing types of “investments” through Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Business Journal suggests state budget priorities require an overhaul and scrutiny before afflicting another year of final spending recommendations that incomprehensibly ignore the real issues.

State Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague, late last week called upon the House Committee on Appropriations and Appropriations Subcommittee on Military and Veterans Affairs to provide $6 million for “more robust oversight” of the two state-run veterans care facilities. Compared to the cuts already made and the amount of funding that is likely necessary to return the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans to passable levels of care, the proposal is exceedingly weak and can be seen as a paltry apology.

Hughes and those legislators to whom responsibility is entrusted must begin by addressing the sickening health care concerns that have been obvious for years (as were the concerns in Flint). The Business Journal notes the expertise offered just miles away along the Medical Mile and near neighbors.

These issues, left unresolved, further threaten the ability of the state to foster trust and to appear attractive to any new business.

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