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Vermont Veterans Home Avoids Funding Cuts

The Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington, VT, previously at risk of losing millions of dollars in federal funding has had that funding restored after a passing inspection. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

The Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington was faced with a choice this month: fix deficiencies outlined by Vermont’s Division of Licensing and Protection, or lose all federal funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – or CMS.  If the funding were cut, Vermont’s Finance Commissioner said the state would not be able to pick up the bill.

The home was found to have several deficiencies including the management of staff and instances of a lack of quality care. If the home was found to not be in compliance under a final state inspection, roughly 2/3 of the 155 vets who live at the home covered by Medicare and Medicaid would have to be relocated to other facilities, a process costly in itself, and that no new admissions under Medicare and Medicaid would be allowed to stay.

But now, home Administrator Melissa Jackson says they are working to turn things around after passing the critical inspection.

Jackson said that currently there are 44 empty beds at the home, out of the total 171.

Kate Duffy, Vermont Human Resources Commissioner was brought in to address issues related to the management of staff, and the administration at the home is in the process of reviewing it’s operations.

But Mark Mitchell, Director of the Vermont State Employees Association, the union which represents the nursing staff that work at the home, says that management of staff is not the issue, it’s the lack of staff.

Mitchell says if that the real problems aren’t looked at the home may risk losing its funding again in the future.

Mitchell claimed that the union has not yet met with the administration to discuss the problems facing the home. He said a meeting was scheduled, but was canceled. He also strongly advocated that the home hire outside consultants to work on the problems.

Melissa Jackson says that home is taking the necessary steps for improvement.

Jackson also commended the staff for their service and dedication to the veterans.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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