Thursday, December 6, 2018

VA Northport - Weekly News Update








PRELUDE:


We The Peeps 1 & the Northport Whistleblowers Alliance want to take this opportunity to reiterate our past statements concerning the dedicated employees at the VA Medical Center, Northport. It is not the mission of this blog to denigrate, or diminish, the jobs done by hundreds of dedicated professionals at all levels of Service to our Veteran community.



The primary aim, here, is to hold the management of this establishment accountable for their actions and inactions, and to force an environment of transparency.



We will never condone management by fear, intimidation, ruthlessness, and lies. We cannot stand idly by when these practices affect both Employees and Patients, not to mention their families.

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VA announces fully capable Tele-counseling service within its Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program (VR&E) announced the ability for Veterans nationwide to meet with more than 1,000 Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRC) via “Tele-counseling,” or virtual communication.

Tele-counseling, which is accessible on any device with a webcam and microphone, increases VA’s responsiveness to Veterans’ needs, reduces travel costs and time for both Veterans and VRCs, and improves Veterans’ access to necessary VR&E services.

“We strive to provide Veterans with access to personalized, interactive face-to-face care and services regardless of where they live,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “VR&E’s Tele-counseling service is another example of how VA continually modernizes in support of Veterans’ needs.”


Tele-counseling allows Veterans to meet with VRCs virtually through VA Video Connect without having to download specialized software or obtain unique usernames and passwords. Access to a scheduled counseling session is obtained through a unique link sent directly to the Veteran and is valid for that counseling session only.

Veterans participating in most VR&E rehabilitation plans of service may use Tele-counseling and are encouraged to speak with their VRCs about it. Participation is voluntary and not required.

VR&E’s updated Tele-counseling application was developed through a partnership with Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) VA Telehealth Services. VR&E recently tested the ability to use Tele-counseling during initial evaluation appointments at six regional benefits offices. This test was conducted to identify how using Tele-counseling can reduce time Veterans wait for an appointment. Best practices were identified and incorporated into the rollout of the updated Tele-counseling application.

Since 2014, over 56,000 Veterans have either completed a rehabilitation plan, are employed, or have achieved a greater independence in living through VR&E assistance. The VR&E Program currently has more than 122,000 participants. For more information about VR&E, visit https://www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/.

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Once again, this program has self-destructed twice at VA Northport. Past history is usually a great indication of the future.

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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Statement by Secretary Robert Wilkie on 
Forever GI Bill Housing Benefit Payments.

I made this clear to Chairmen Isakson and Roe on calls Tuesday and want to reassure Veterans and taxpayers that is indeed the case.

Although VA has encountered issues with implementing the Forever GI Bill on Congress’ timeline, we will work with lawmakers to ensure that – once VA is in a position to process education claims in accordance with the new law – each and every beneficiary will receive retroactively the exact benefits to which they are entitled under that law.

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If you thought you were completely covered under the “Forever G.I. Bill”, You have to read the two articles below! Your head will be all like a Beetlejuice.

VA Waffles on Pledge to Reimburse Student Veterans for Housing Pay Shortfalls

29 Nov 2018

Military.com | By Richard Sisk

“The Department of Veterans Affairs' chief benefits official gave assurances Thursday that the department would strive to make whole student veterans who were underpaid for housing stipends under the new Forever GI Bill but left open the possibility that some may never be fully reimbursed.”

"There could be some we underpay out there" under the complicated formula for calculating the housing allowances, and the equally complicated fix the VA announced Wednesday, Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tennessee, told VA Undersecretary Paul Lawrence, head of the Veterans Benefits Administration.”

“At a hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Lawrence initially responded that all students veterans would get what they were owed -- "retroactively, if need be" -- and he blasted an NBC News report that suggested otherwise.”

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BIG UPDATE:

Just prior to publishing, we found out that the VA/OIG has received so many phone calls, emails, and letters from employees in and around the CLC and Nursing Home that they have scheduled ANOTHER trip to Northport to have ANOTHER look at the situation. Of course, the IG told “Chatty” Cathy they were coming, so maybe there is time to hide stuff and plan ANOTHER “Cinderella” tour for the folks from Washington.

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2018 VA Office of Inspector General

Northport VA Medical Center, New York Issued 9/18/2018 | Report Number 18-01018-281

Alleged Poor Quality of Care in a Community Living Center at the Northport VA Medical Center, New York Issued 9/18/2018 | Report Number 17-03347-285

Alleged Quality of Care Issues in the Community Living Centers, Northport VA Medical Center, New York Issued 9/18/2018 | Report Number 17-03347-290

Alleged Quality of Care Issues in the Community Living Centers, Northport VA Medical Center, New York. The OIG substantiated Patient A died after choking on food, but could not attribute the cause to nurse staffing. The OIG team also substantiated that staff called the wrong code, delaying Patient A’s transport; that staff did not consistently document hourly rounds; and that a second patient’s wrists were bound by a palm protector strap, although there was no evidence to suggest an intentional act of wrongdoing. The OIG was unable to substantiate whether patients were regularly left unsupervised while eating, or a lack of staff vigilance. The OIG did not substantiate that managers misrepresented the cause of Patient A’s death, that one community living center (CLC) lacked security, or that CLC nursing managers were often unavailable. The OIG made nine recommendations related to emergency medical response processes and policies, CLC meal staffing and delivery processes, safety rounds, and reviews of Patient A’s care. Alleged Inadequate Nurse Staffing Led to Quality of Care Issues in the Community Living Centers at the Northport VA Medical Center, New York The OIG substantiated that nursing leaders were aware of staffing shortages; administrative registered nurses provided CLC nursing care; facility leaders pressured CLC managers to accept admissions; and at times CLCs were closed to admissions, although residents were not transferred due to staffing deficiencies. The OIG was unable to substantiate that the use of float staff and overtime placed residents at a higher risk for adverse events.

The OIG found the facility failed to use alternative staffing. There was also a delay in filling vacant positions and a lack of approval for increased staff. Also, overtime funding exceeded the cost of filling vacant positions. The OIG made three recommendations related to CLC nurse staffing and recruitment, alternative staffing, and overtime management.

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UPDATE:   In light of the four recent hip fractures and the two ensuing deaths in the Northport VAMC Nursing Home, a “quality improvement action plan” is being implemented to prevent future falls and the resultant fractures and deaths. Believe it or not,  “Chatty” Cathy’s “action plan” does not involve hiring sufficient Staff to provide proper Patient care, supervision, and safety. The “action plan” simply calls for continued education of existing Staff. [That’s assuming you can find the Nurse Educators who were bounced from condemned Bldg. 7, and are not allowed to set up shop in the “Library”.] There has been plenty of education. A dramtic increase in Staff numbers is needed.

Another.......# VA Epic Fail!

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Alleged Poor Quality of Care in a Community Living Center at the Northport VA Medical Center, New York. The OIG substantiated that a patient fell and required hip fracture repair surgery but did not substantiate the fall was caused by deficient fall precautions or that the patient’s death was caused by abuse or neglect. Although the OIG substantiated the patient did not receive all required anticoagulation medication doses, the OIG did not substantiate the missing doses contributed to the patient’s death. The OIG was unable to substantiate that the patient did not receive one-to-one observation because of conflicting evidence. The OIG did not substantiate that a nurse manager received complaints about staff that impacted patient care and failed to take corrective action or that facility leaders covered up

the patient’s death. The OIG made three recommendations related to 24-hour observation flow sheets, updated quality management review, and institutional disclosure.

AND....NOW, THEY’RE BAAAACK!
NOT!!!!

Four VA/OIG reports in the last year all targeting serious shortfalls in our Nursing Home & CLC. They admit the problems exist then sum it all up by saying they recommend no further action to correct those problems. What kind of “dog & pony” show is this?

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When it comes to Pain Management, our little CBOC on the hill is second to none. Veteran Patients are starting to come forward to express total disgust with the epidural procedure at Northport. One of our Northport Whistleblowers   Alliance  members opted to try out Northport for one round of shots a few years ago[The VA Way]. The VA “experience” was quite a deviation from how he had been treated in the private sector. The inexperienced Resident who tried administering the injections found himself pinned to the hospital bed. Before leaving the room, the Veteran issued a promise that, “If the VA ever did that to him again, he would cut someone into little pieces and eat them!”

Normally this Veteran would have gone to the North American Pain Management clinic at Syosset Hospital [The Right Way].


The VA way:

1)   First let’s try three to four years of Physical

      Therapy. 





2)   If that doesn’t work, let “X” mark the spot.





3)   Grab the new and improved injection kit.




4)   Restrain the Patient and stick him without sedation or image guidance.



The right way:

1)   Prep the Patient for image guided procedure.


2)   Position & secure the Patient on the table for best access to

      affected area.



3)   Administer sedation a predetermined amount of sedation for Patient comfort.




4)   Use the Fluoroscope for image guidance.








5)   Qualified Specialist will then administer the injection.






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Email:

“Do you know about them closing the CWT work program for the veterans that do a wonderful job with the Green House?”

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EM.....TEEE!!



Welcome to the Department of Veterans Affairs website for Compensated Work Therapy. Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) is a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinical Vocational Rehabilitation program.

Our professional CWT staffs provide:

  • Evidence based and evidence informed vocational rehabilitation services

FACT: - Evidence based and informed means the program process actually works!

  • Partnerships with business, industry and government agencies to provide Veteran candidates for employment and Veteran labor

FACT: VA gets the private sector to donate resources for this program, thus the  program costs VA very little to operate.

  • Employment supports to Veterans and employers

FACT: Yes, it supports the employers. At $5.00/hr., I doubt seriously if it “supports” the Veteran.

CWT programs strive to maintain highly responsive long term quality relationships with business, government agencies, and industry promoting employment opportunities for Veterans with physical and mental health challenges.






 CWT programs are located within all VA medical centers. Review the CWT Locations page to find site specifics. Many of our CWT programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). CARF International is an independent accrediting body of health and human service providers. CARF accreditation confirms that CWT programs are committed to continuous quality improvement, accountability for its performance through outcomes evidence, and monitoring the satisfaction of the persons served.

Remember what we disclosed two weeks ago? The Administration has detailed Voc. Rehab. to the chopping block. This is one of the programs that has been cut; with more to come.


FACT: They will probably keep all the “V.I.” workers from that program and place them elsewhere, because they pay them peanuts.

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FACT: We finally ran across someone who is a PERMANENT chief O’ something! Oscar “The Grouch” Prue is permanent Chief O’Engineering. Scotty “Lock The Door” Guermonprez brought him down from Albany VA. Looks like Oscar “The Grouch” is seriously looking for an “Architect” to hire, so he can spread some of the scapegoating around more evenly.

Hey, Oscar....You may be an

endangered species

at Northport. Albany is very 
pretty this time of year. You know how Joan "The Wicked Witch of Albany gets! Watch your back, dude!
...just ask your buddy!

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FACT: With Colleen “The Not So Lucky” Luckner occupying a 6’ x 6’ “closet” office in the (umm...) Library, Christine “Git” Going is still awaiting her promotion into Bldg. #10 from her current position as Chief O’Food Service.

At what point do the knives come out?

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FACT: The word from some Congressional Staffers is that VA’s  “collapse-in-place” strategy for our 100-year-old buildings is indeed their intention. They are indicating that BLDG.’s 5, 7 & 11 are at the top of list along with Bldg.’s 1 & 2. Ah, but not Tom Suozzi! “Chatty” Cathy Cruise has Tom singing her praises as a wonderful, strong leader over there in Northport.


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FACT:
With all the very serious complaints being lodged, VA Northport will be asked, soon, to fully remedy the situation, or disperse Nursing Home & Community Living Patients to the private sector. If dispersed, VA will be paying the bill for these Patients....no questions asked. This might 
be the “out” they need to clear Bldg. 82, and put it on the “collapse-in-place” list. Let’s see what the VA/OIG has to say after their little visit this week. Item: 4 geriatric hip fractures in 4 weeks; with 2 Patients dying for complications = 50% mortality rate....Yikes! We think the OIG may be seriously pissed at Northport administrators!
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We can’t forget to give a shout-out to our Buddy......
Hi, Richie.......................Hi, Sasha!!!!!!!
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ONE MORE UPDATE: Sad to report that one more of our Veterans committed suicide this week. That brings to five Veteran suicides in the past five weeks that we know of here on Long Island.
And, please folks, don’t forget. Go to Central Intake in Bldg. #200 and get your new VA/ID cards!






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HEY.......VA !
MY LITTLE GIRL DOESN’T
LIKE YOU VERY MUCH !!