Missouri's Governor is taking notice of a 5 On Your Side report on the St. Louis Veterans Home. Patients who served our country are claiming abuse and neglect at the place they went to for help. A former employee also shared his concerns.
“Once you got into it, you went, ‘Man, there’s not many others that are willing to do this. Why?' And it’s not very long before you find out,” explained Mitchell, who described the high turnover at the Veteran’s Home. Mitchell was hired in early 2016 as a charge nurse in the Dementia Unit.
“Usually with dementia patients, you want a low stimulus environment,” explained Mitchell. “And it was chaos all the time,” he said.
Mitchell said many times, it was just him and a couple of technicians on duty. Often, he said, an eight-hour shift turned in to a 16-hour shift.
“Some of the techs would call off because they had worked five or six 16-hour shifts in a row,” said Mitchell.
These allegations caught the attention of Governor Eric Greitens, who sent 5 On Your Side a statement which reads, in part:
“These allegations are deeply disturbing. We will continue to demand the best for our veterans, and we will hold accountable those responsible for their care.“I saw too many of my friends return from combat and get mistreated by the VA. The dysfunction at the VA is one of the reasons I got involved in politics. I've seen proud and strong warriors wait months for access to the care they need. I've seen the bureaucracy give their families the runaround. I've seen this pain with my own two eyes.”
Greitens said he’s calling on the Department of Public Safety to conduct an independent investigation.
“It takes a lot of effort one on one with a dementia patient, much less 30 to one,” Mitchell said.
In an email to 5 On Your Side, the Missouri Veterans Commission wrote that throughout the nursing care industry, scheduling for all shifts is a challenge, but that it does its best to minimize overtime. It works with its staff to alternate time off.
The Missouri Veterans Commission issued the following response:
Our dedicated staff are committed to providing the highest quality care with compassion for Missouri’s Veterans, and this includes staffing. Throughout the nursing care industry, scheduling staff for all shifts is a challenge and staff retention in the nursing care industry is an issue everywhere.
Overtime is generally caused by workers calling in at the last minute and we only require it to ensure we provide quality care to the Veterans and follow the VA’s staffing requirements.
We do our best to minimize overtime and work with our staff to allow alternate time off to be with family.