June 26, 2018

Warner & Kaine Press Virginia V-A Medical Centers on Quality of Nursing Home Care

~ Letter follows media investigation of inadequate care in nursing homes overseen by the Dept of Veterans Affairs  ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today pressed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on the quality of care at nursing homes that serve Virginia’s veterans, following an investigation by USA Today and the Boston Globe that found that a majority of the VA’s 133 nursing homes – known as community living centers – have a higher percentage of residents suffering from pain and preventable complications than at comparable private care facilities.

In a letter to the heads of four VA medical centers that serve large numbers of Virginia veterans – in Hampton, Va.; Richmond, Va.; Salem, Va.; and Washington, D.C. – Sens. Warner and Kaine asked what steps they are taking to address problems at their nursing home facilities, which include unacceptably high rates of bedsores and serious pain among residents, among other issues.

“Detailed data on VA nursing homes previously undisclosed by the Department indicate that nursing homes in Hampton, Richmond, Salem, and Washington, D.C. have outcome metrics far worse than private facilities. According to the VA’s tracking system, the VA facilities scored on average below private nursing homes on 9 of 11 indicators,” the Senators wrote, highlighting areas where the VA data is particularly alarming.  

The Senators noted, “It is critical for the VA to be transparent about the quality of care provided to our nation’s veterans. Stakeholders, patients, and their families deserve to have a clear understanding of potential deficiencies. We are particularly interested in understanding what steps each of your facilities are taking to address and mitigate these serious problems, as shown by the data. Our nation’s veterans deserve the best care we have to offer. We must renew our commitment to ensuring that veterans have the high quality of care that is worthy of their service and sacrifice. It is imperative that you determine a plan to alleviate these issues in the coming weeks.”

Sens. Warner & Kaine recently supported an appropriations bill passed by the Senate that includes a provision ensuring data on nursing home facility outcomes will be made publicly available by the VA.

The full text of the Senators’ letter is available here and below.

June 26, 2018

Ronald Johnson

Director

Hampton VA Medical Center

100 Emancipation Drive

Hampton, VA 23667

John Brandecker

Director

Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center

1201 Broad Rock Boulevard

Richmond, VA 23249

Rebecca Stackhouse

Director

Salem VA Medical Center

1970 Roanoke Boulevard

Salem, VA 24153

Adam Johnson

Acting Director

Washington DC VA Medical Center

50 Irving Street NW

Washington, DC 20422                                        

Dear Mr. Johnson, Mr. Brandecker, Ms. Stackhouse & Dr. Johnson:

We are writing to express our deep concern over recent reports in the media of inadequate care provided in nursing homes overseen by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including those located in Virginia and Washington, D.C.  Specifically, an investigation by USA Today and the Boston Globe revealed unacceptable conditions for patients in VA-run nursing homes across the country. 

Detailed data on VA nursing homes previously undisclosed by the Department indicate that nursing homes in Hampton, Richmond, Salem, and Washington, D.C. have outcome metrics far worse than private facilities. According to the VA’s tracking system, the VA facilities scored on average below private nursing homes on 9 of 11 indicators. The following data is deeply alarming as relates to the Commonwealth’s facilities:

Residents reporting serious pain in the past five days

Hampton – 25.8% (VA) vs. 5.6% (private)

Richmond – 22.1% (VA) vs. 5.6% (private)

Salem – 32.4% (VA) vs. 5.6% (private)

Washington, D.C. – 25.67% (VA) vs. 5.6% (private)

Short-stay residents in serious pain in past five days

Hampton – 25.8% (VA) vs. 13.3% (private)

Richmond – 44.2% (VA) vs. 13.3% (private)

Salem – 19.0% (VA) vs. 13.3% (private)

Washington, D.C. – 37.45% (VA) vs. 13.32% (private)

Residents with serious bed sores

Hampton – 11.5% (VA) vs. 5.6% (private)

Salem – 17.3% (VA) vs. 5.6% (private)

Washington, D.C. – 16.4% (VA) vs. 5.6% (private)

Residents with catheter left in the bladder

Hampton – 12.8% (VA) vs. 1.8% (private)

Richmond – 13.7% (VA) vs. 1.8% (private)

Salem – 13.6% (VA) vs. 1.8% (private)

Washington, D.C. – 11.6% (VA) vs. 1.8% (private)

Although we are disturbed that the VA did not voluntarily share this data, we are pleased that an amendment was added to the FY 2019 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which recently passed the Senate. This legislation will ensure this information becomes public in the future. It is critical for the VA to be transparent about the quality of care provided to our nation’s veterans. Stakeholders, patients, and their families deserve to have a clear understanding of potential deficiencies. We are particularly interested in understanding what steps each of your facilities are taking to address and mitigate these serious problems, as shown by the data.

Our nation’s veterans deserve the best care we have to offer. We must renew our commitment to ensuring that veterans have the high quality of care that is worthy of their service and sacrifice. It is imperative that you determine a plan to alleviate these issues in the coming weeks.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely,

Mark R. Warner

United States Senator

Tim Kaine

United States Senator

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