Mike Masterson (correctly) criticizes planned closure of LR veterans nursing home

Every so often, Mike Masterson really nails it. While I frequently disagree with his politics, Mike has a decent heart and a sense of justice. (I also think he has a pretty sharp wife, and I disagree with Laurie’s politics as well.)

Masterson’s topic concerns the injustice being perpetrated against 60 aged Arkansas veterans. The column is a copyright item in the Democrat-Gazette and runs behind a pay wall, so I can only post a small portion. You will get the picture.

Mike Masterson outlines how the former administrator of the Veterans Home in Little Rock was dismissed for wrongfully collecting nearly $600,000 from 18 veterans over a three-year period. This resulted in quite a housecleaning of administrators before the other shoe dropped.

But then comes the governmental response.

The 60 aged resident veterans of this home who served their nation honorably will be ushered out of their home and its doors closed forever.

Seems there just isn’t enough public money to repair the old home and operate it correctly and humanely.

Perhaps some will wind up in the only remaining veterans home, at Fayetteville (with an unenviable history of myriad deficiencies and violations).

Martha Deaver is the Director of Arkansas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents and Masterson grabbed a few juicy quotes from her.

“They are going to be placed in Arkansas nursing homes and taken away from their home and fellow comrades. The latest government data on Arkansas’ 233 nursing homes documents over 2,800 violations cited for actual harm or the potential for death to the residents.”

The state’s inspection surveys on the Little Rock Veterans Home show a relatively minimal number of violations when compared with the Fayetteville Veterans Home’s data during the past two years.

Mike does not much agree with my politics, but let me observe anyway that we, as a nation, seem to be very ready to start wars, spend endless sums of money, divert our precious resources into a completely unproductive venture, and put our uniformed men and women in grave physical danger with very little concern for economic or human cost. Why on earth can we not take care of the folks who have given so much, their physical and emotional well being, to the service of this great country?

Masterson notes the large state surplus, which might provide ample funds for necessary work on this otherwise acceptable facility. He also observes that there are probably plenty of ex-military folks who would cheerfully contribute money and muscle to the cause. I agree with Mike Master on both points. Let it be.


About patlynch
I am a broadcaster in Arkansas, a former freelance writer and political columnist in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Writing Coach. Speaker. Director of the Christian Foundations for Ministry program, and presently enrolled in the Anglican School of Ministry Master of Ministry program.

3 Responses to Mike Masterson (correctly) criticizes planned closure of LR veterans nursing home

  1. Ben Allen says:

    Well Pat, there’s our one for the day. Yes, as a veteran I would give to the cause and I do believe that this is one area where the common good is best served by doing the right thing for our veterans.

  2. Patt says:

    I agree I would be happy to give money and labor to help save this home. There has to be some way to save it!

  3. Stu Soffer, CWO, U.S. Army retired says:

    Mike (and Pat) either does not read his own newspaper regularly or ignored what was in Amy Schlesing’s great column about the Little Rock Veterans Home last Wednesday, and Paul Greenberg’s editorial on Saturday that (as usual) nailed it.

    First Amy very accurately reported, “The Little Rock Veterans Home has for years hidden its age behind closed doors and under its concrete foundation, where crumbling, water-damaged walls, and a collapsed sewer system quietly lay in stark contrast to the pastel hallways.” Now we find conditions at the Home are even more deplorable than originally thought and includes chronic sewer backups that push sewage up through floor drains in the kitchen and other areas of the lower floors several times a month.”

    Then Paul opined, “Whether the old veterans home is rebuilt on the same site or new homes are found for the 45 or so veterans remaining on these totally unsuitable – indeed, shamefully neglected-premises, this much is clear. Our veterans didn’t and don’t deserve to be treated this way. They need to be provided with decent quarters. With all deliberate speed. Anything less is unacceptable.”

    I personally cannot help but wonder how long before the Department of Health curtails food operations at the Home to prevent an outbreak. If I correctly recall from my professional training (i.e., U.S. Army Club Management School, U.S. Air Force Club Steward Course(s), Florida International University Executive Club Management Course, and a ton of seminars over 30+ years of food service facility management), human exposure to raw sewage can lead to illness ranging from mild gastroenteritis, severe fatigue, cholera, Hepatitis and much more. Were all aware that in one case (there maybe more) a wheel chair bound veterans has to be wheeled down the hallway to a public bathroom that can accommodate his wheel chair because the one in his room cannot? Sorry folks, that is not giving this veteran the dignity he earned. And, what happens if someone is not immediately available to assist when nature calls. As Lynch can relate, the older you get the less cooperative one’s bladder is.

    Now out of the blue comes Martha Deaver to the rescue. She wants to keep these veterans in squalor and Mike has asked all to join her in descending on the Capitol when the Ledge is not in session and many won’t be returning after the November election, to advocate keeping the remaining veterans in the deplorable conditions. All involved in pressing to delay relocating these frail veterans should be prepared to shoulder the responsibility if one of their immune systems fails because of an outbreak associated with the conditions and they become ill or worse.

    The issues must be separated not lumped together for emotionally generated publicity. The first is timely humane resident relocation not delayed by unwarranted emotional protests. The second is determine why DVA is in the Nursing and Veterans Home business to begin with. If the State will stay in that business, would it not be more appropriately placed under Department of Human Services, or even the Department of Health? Then of course the ever popular favorite MONEY! If you broke the glass and removed the ever present magic wand from it’s glass case marked “break only in the event a miracle is needed,” and waived it then Poof! all of the needed repairs are completed in a moment and not six to nine months, where is the money to operate the Home coming from? The original problem will still not be remedied. The feds won’t contribute because the physical configuration is not up to Medicaid/Medicare standards. The budget has shortfalls and moving money from one account to the Home account only causes a corresponding shortfall in the stripped account (can you say North Little Rock Veterans Cemetery and Fayetteville Nursing Home.)

    It’s easy to attract uninformed people on the Capitol steps for emotional media face time (mandatory Southern injection: “bless their hearts”) but it’s more difficult to solve problems. All you are doing by lumping together all of the issues is distracting form the solution of the most pressing, and creating more work for those who are trying to fix what they inherited.

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