Improving Veterans’ Health Care Requires More Funds
Gov. Gray Davis' (D) Blue Ribbon Task Force on Veterans' Homes issued a report on Friday recommending increased funding and additional staff to improve health care for veterans, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports (Lee, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/13). Davis appointed the nine-member panel, which spent eight months looking for ways to improve California Department of Veterans Affairs facilities, in response to "years of controversy" over the quality of care at VA homes in Yountville and Barstow (Hill, Sacramento Bee, 11/11). In its 41-page report, the task force recommended that the state ensure each home has a "full-time chief medical officer," and that facilities increase the salary of nursing directors and establish employee "recruiting and retention incentives" such as subsidized housing. The report also suggested providing day care assistance for staff and offering bonuses for nurses with bachelor's or master's degrees (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/13). In reviews from January to August, cases of patients dying from "apparent neglect" were documented at the Barstow facility. The report also found homes had problems with record keeping, "supervision, training and turnover of staff" and "dealing with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia" (Sacramento Bee, 11/11). The Barstow home had "about $270,000" in federal funding suspended in June after it failed a certification survey. The facility has failed such surveys four times in the past five years. California Department of Veterans Affairs spokesperson Jerry Jones said the agency is "taking steps to correct the problems" and looking to restore the home's funding (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/13). Steve Maviglio, a spokesperson for the governor, said that Davis will "review the [report] and go ahead with some of the proposals" (Sacramento Bee, 11/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.