Lawmakers Seek Better Oversight of State Veterans Nursing Homes
On Tuesday, the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee called for more accountability and oversight from state officials to ensure that problems at veterans nursing homes in Chula Vista and elsewhere do not occur at new facilities in the works, Copley News Service/San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Since opening in 2000, the 400-bed Chula Vista facility has dealt with several construction defects, including a malfunctioning system for residents to call nurses. California's two other veterans homes have experienced similar problems.
However, Tom Johnson, secretary of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, said, "At no time was resident care or safety compromised."
Assembly member Mary Salas (D-Chula Vista), committee chair, agreed that "the quality of care has not suffered" but argued that the state has had to limit admissions to veterans homes because the cost of repairs has depleted the budget.
For example, the state veterans affairs department has asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and lawmakers for $1 million in emergency funding immediately and an additional $2.2 million next fiscal year to pay for shower repairs.
Salas said she plans to seek more accountability and transparency from state officials and contractors regarding repairs and expenditures. She added, "If we can't take care of the three homes we have, we have no business opening new ones until we get the systems in place to guarantee the operations of the veterans homes."
California plans to build several new veterans facilities by 2010, including locations in Los Angeles and Redding.
Johnson noted several corrective measures to strengthen oversight, including improved inspections at the current construction sites and the hiring of two managers to supervise the building process (Gardner, Copley News Service/San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/28).