RESIDENTS AT RISK

OPINION:

Sitter and Barfoot continues to place residents and employees at risk through its poor hiring practices.

In the last three months, new hires have been put through five days of orientation and worked on the floor caring for residents only to be let go after failing background standards.

Most recently a new hire, not even completing his fifth day of orientation, was caught sleeping shortly after clocking in.  When confronted with his indiscretion, he became belligerent and confrontational to the extent that the Richmond city police had to be called to escort him from the building. Because of his erratic behavior co-workers had become fearful for their safety.

City police complained that they had to take a circuitous route because the main gate to Sitter and Barfoot was locked closed. The gate is secured every night and twenty-four hours a day Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays. This causes unnecessary and dangerous delays in all emergency response times, further putting residents and employees at risk.

These conditions are exacerbated by the anticipated opening of a new forty-bed unit and the rush to get it opened on time in July.

Sitter and Barfoot has a history of poor hiring practices and keeping quality personnel for the non-traditional shifts. This condition has worsened in recent months.  Going back as far as 2010 and 2011, Sitter and Barfoot has shown a lack of concern in their hiring practices.  The Virginia Department of Health, the ineffective agency that inspects nursing homes, noted in their June 10, 2010, annual surveys that: “At time of job offer the H.R. Department will confirm verification of license/certification is in the personnel file.”  The Department of Health further stated that: “If the verification has not been obtained/confirmed the new employee will not be allowed to work.”

Those directives had not been addressed a year later. On June 23, 2011 the Health Department cited Sitter and Barfoot again with the following:  “This requirement is not met as evidenced by:  Based on staff interview and facility documentation review, the facility staff failed to operationalize [sic] policies for screening employees for 3 of 5 employees (CNA A, LPN A, other B) in the survey sample.  The facility staff failed to conduct background check, reference checks, and timely licensure verification.”

Apparently, the leadership and the administration of Sitter and Barfoot did not take the safety and security of residents and employees seriously in 2010.  They took the recommendations of the Health Department and did nothing—they provided no action or follow-up.  Now, five years later, it appears little has changed.

The Department of Veterans Services, the state governing authority over Sitter and Barfoot, continues to collect state paychecks oblivious to the risks at their nursing home. They too are complicit in the neglect of veterans and in doing so, should be held accountable.

bc

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