Saturday, March 11, 2017

'Horrific' veteran deaths covered up in Oklahoma state-run nursing home, insiders say

Kevin Kimbrough survived 13 months of combat in Vietnam and the related post-traumatic stress disorder that plunged him into a dozen years of self-medicating with alcohol and drugs.

Between 2013 and early 2015, he even survived a major stroke and the amputations of both of his legs.

But two years at the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Talihina has left him battered and bruised, and two months ago, on the brink of death.

His sister, who moved halfway across the country to see to his care, has had enough. She’s transferring him to a state veterans home in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the patient-to-aide ratio is a fourth of what it is at Talihina.

“We’re all gonna die. Kevin’s gonna die. But it’s gonna be on God’s time – not because you neglected him or failed to do your job!” said Molly Kimbrough.

Molly Kimbrough & brother Kevin
One state lawmaker is assisting top executives at the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs with legislation to relocate the vets’ nursing home at Talihina to a larger city nearby because of two high-profile, questionable deaths in the last five months.

Those state officials have focused their public comments and concerns on local staffing challenges and the age and design of the converted, 1921 tuberculosis sanitorium on the outskirts of a remote, tiny town in the Ouachita Mountains.

But health-care workers from the highest to lowest levels of patient care at multiple ODVA-run nursing homes for veterans say the problems are in no way limited to Talihina – they’re systemic.

In a Tulsa World investigation, sources provided detailed accounts and documentation of systemwide reductions in medical and nursing staff, outsourcing of lab work and one-size-fits-all, top-down medical directives and policy changes. All the corners being cut and administrative decisions are driving out staff dedicated to the mission of veteran care and are compromising patient care and safety, sources say.

The Tulsa World verified the identities and clean state license histories of the workers and agreed to protect their identities because they fear retaliation by superiors.

Consistently, those who work directly with patients cited as the root of their concerns the centralized decision-making by ODVA’s top, new leadership — career military leaders without nursing home or long-term-care experience — and cover-ups and patient-blaming when mistakes, injuries and unnatural deaths occur.

“I don’t think it’s a Talihina problem,” said a high-ranking staffer. “The system is sick and it starts from the top down.”

The individual added: “There are deaths the public isn’t even aware of and there have been a lot more near-misses — lab work not done in a timely fashion or not at all; one nurse having to pass meds to 50 people within one hour of a meal; three aides to feed, toilet and clean 50 patients on a unit. When you spread people that thin, bad things are going to happen. And it’s veterans who are suffering.”  (Click to Continue)

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'Horrific' veteran deaths covered up in Oklahoma state-run nursing home, insiders say

1 comment:

Betty said...

What a sister!