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Complaints on Working Conditions at W. Va. Veterans Facility Prompt Governor to Act

May 23, 2013

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) ordered an investigation of the West Virginia Veterans Nursing Facility on May 9 following accusations of substandard working conditions.

The West Virginia Public Workers Union, UE Local 170, complained about staff shortages and mandatory staff overtime at the facility in a press release (pdf) issued a week earlier.

While the state Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification is conducting the investigation, Local 170 President Donna Morgan is skeptical that they — or the state’s Department of Veterans Assistance — will “uncover” the problems on a visit, according to an article in The Exponent Telegram.

Although “sufficient staff might be present at the time of the visit,” Morgan said, “are they people who have been there for 16 hours or are they people who have been there for 8 hours?”

“Complaints about working conditions at the nursing home have been an ongoing issue for two to three years,” Delegate Richard Iaquinta (D), chair of the state’s House Veterans Affairs Committee, says in the article. He adds that earlier investigations “did not discover any violations, but he welcomed another visit.”

The union’s press release says that they are calling on the governor for an independent investigation following recent local news reports about staff shortages at the facility and coverage of retaliation against a resident who complained about the facility to state surveyors last year. It also says that the union has raised concerns about the staff shortages and mandatory staff overtime with the facility’s administrator for “several years” but he has yet to correct them.

“Anytime someone has a question about our veterans or the care or treatment of our veterans, it’s always a good time to ask questions,” says a spokeswoman for the governor in the article.

— by Deane Beebe

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