ENDANGERED SPECIES

OPINION:

McGuire Veterans Medical Center endangers forty additional veterans. Security, safety, and needed emergency services are being jeopardized.

With the completion of the new forty-bed wing at Sitter and Barfoot Veterans Care Center, it brings the total to over two hundred employees and veterans at risk.

Sitter and Barfoot is a long-term facility for veterans honorably discharged from active service that need rehabilitation or long-term skilled nursing care. It is a nursing home.

Sitter and Barfoot is situated on the property of McGuire Veterans Hospital, yet security and emergency response falls to the Richmond City Police, Richmond Fire Department, and outside or city ambulance service.

In what could only be attributed to a cost-saving effort, the most direct route to Sitter and Barfoot is through a gate that is closed and locked at dark, and twenty-four hours a day on weekends, and holidays. The locked gate impedes all emergency vehicles; ambulance, fire, and police. This mistake causes emergency responders to take a more circuitous route through McGuire’s main entrance, putting over two hundred of the most vulnerable veterans and state employees at risk. Veterans that suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s; many are unable to walk, and all suffer from medical conditions requiring skilled nursing care.

It is a fact that in an emergency, every second counts. The closing and locking the gate slows the response time for all emergency vehicles responding to life and death conditions—delays with dire consequences. Life-threatening delays.

For the safety, security, and well-being of employees and aging veterans, it is critical that Sitter and Barfoot be patrolled and the gate open 24/7.

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RESIDENTS’ RIGHTS: LONG-TERM CARE

OPINION:

RESIDENTS’ RIGHTS: LONG-TERM CARE

Ignoring residents’ rights is the most common form of abuse found in long-term care facilities. It goes largely unnoticed and unreported. It doesn’t leave bruise marks or fractures, but it can be equally insidious and painful—leaving permanent scars on the mind.

Residents’ rights are written on paper and trashed by the administrators of long-term care homes. They are considered trivial and get in the way of their day to day operations. Much more essential to management is meeting financial and administrative objectives—glossing over residents’ rights knowing that such abuses are difficult to detect and harder to prove.

The elderly are a commodity. Keep them comfortable, make sure they’re given medications, they’re clean, fed, hydrated; make sure they don’t fall and control and contain all grievances.

Nursing homes smooth over residents’ rights complaints using vague and elastic terms. They use words like: typically, generally, many, and few, when answering questions. The administration will avoid specifics at all cost. Direct, honest answers will not be forthcoming. The intent is to reduce all accountability on the part of the long-term caregiver.

Long-term care providers get away with these abuses because residents are thought to suffer from cognitive deficiencies or have delusional thoughts brought on by medications. That’s why abuse of residents’ rights is so pervasive. Residents are intimidated and given misinformation from perceived figures of power. They only believe what they are told. Residents don’t know the alternatives and don’t question authority.

I have raised my concerns to the administrator. They have been met with insincere and condescending responses receiving attention for only the short-term—then ignored and quickly forgotten. Rights abuses are trivialized and left unresolved. The trust between me and the administration has been severed.

I served my country with honor—to protect and defend the Constitution. Now my inalienable rights have been stripped from me.

I am a resident of a long-term veterans’ nursing home. I have no cognitive impairments. I am my responsible party, and my rights are being abused.

The abuse of my rights has left no visible signs—no bruises, no broken bones. However, the emotional scars; the anger and the frustration can never be erased, forgotten, or forgiven.

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