LANSING, Mich. — Senator Vincent Gregory (D–Lathrup Village) has issued the following statement regarding the Auditor General’s report of the Grand Rapids Veterans Home that was released this morning.

“The Auditor General’s report on conditions at the Grand Rapids Veterans Home confirm our worst fears: the company entrusted with care of our veterans is focused on profits, not service to our veterans.

“The findings validate media reports that the state-paid contractor, J2S, has shown a consistent record of understaffing the facility in violation of its state contract. This understaffing, plus the regular practice of requiring nurses to work double shifts, poses a potentially serious threat to the wellbeing of the residents.

“In addition to the short-staffing, the Auditor General stated that the contractor submitted fraudulent reports to the state:

… 43% of the member location checks and 33% of the fall alarm checks in our samples did not occur. However, the Home provided documentation as if the checks occurred 100% and 96% of the time, respectively. Further, supervisory staff certified 17 of the 25 location check sheets for checks did not exist.

“The report also indicates significant problems with administering non-narcotic medications, and failures to complete comprehensive care plans.

“The failures of J2S is part of a larger pattern where state government turns its responsibilities over to private, profit-making companies or to state-appointed “managers” which then fail to provide the service required, and fail to protect the people of Michigan. The only time there is accountability, it appears, is when those failures are exposed by the media. This has been the case with the Veterans Home, prison food services, management of Flint’s water system, profiteering by charter-school companies and management of the Detroit Public School system.

“As a veteran, I am saddened by the mindset that has put corporate profits ahead of the welfare of our veterans, men and women who have selflessly served our nation. I am asking both the Senate Oversight Committee and the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security Committee to launch a thorough investigation into the shortcomings at the Grand Rapids Veterans Home and make recommendations for resolving this horrific situation.

“The first obligation of for-profit companies is to make a profit. The first obligation of state government is serve and protect its citizens. As a Legislature, we have an obligation to ensure that taxpayer money is used efficiently AND effectively.

“The prevailing mindset in state government is to do things as cheaply as possible, settling for mediocre outcomes in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” We need to adjust that mindset. State government should provide high-quality service to all the people of Michigan as efficiently and effectively as practical. Settling for mediocrity is a formula for making Michigan a second-rate state.

“The Grand Rapids Veterans Home, which cares for about 400 veterans, has an annual budget of $49.1 million, which includes $14.5 million in state funds.”

Sen. Vincent Gregory is a Marine and Vietnam Veteran, as well as the lead Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was elected to the Michigan State Senate in 2010 where he represents citizens of the 11th District located in Oakland County that includes the cities of Farmington, Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Lathrup Village, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Southfield, and Royal Oak Township.

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