Officials defend Rifle VA home
RIFLE Officials who oversee the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home are defending its operations following media reports this week about an uninvestigated fatal fall there.The Rifle facility’s administrator and a state official said the fatality in question didn’t result from a fall, and the man involved received proper care. The only problem was a failure to fully report the incident to other agencies, said Viki Manley, office director of the State and Veterans Nursing Homes, a state agency.”It was only about reporting and not about care of the client,” she said.The Rifle incident was mentioned in Associated Press and Denver Post stories Tuesday that listed problems at several state-run nursing homes for veterans. The problems ranged from 42 residents with bed sores at one facility to lack of accessibility to people with handicaps in another.Bob Shaw, who runs the Rifle home, said a federal Veterans Affairs report apparently shows that the incident there involved a fall when it didn’t.”We’ve gone through and looked at the charts. There was no evidence of a fall,” he said.The death occurred Sept. 29, 2005. Authorities said they are prevented by federal privacy rules from revealing the identity of the man who died.Shaw said the man got up and had breakfast at about 7 a.m. and said he had a bad headache. A nurse decided to send him to Grand River Medical Center in Rifle, and an ambulance took him there at about 7:20 a.m., Shaw said.Manley said the man was found to have had a massive hemorrhage.”The home did everything that was possible and appropriate for the client,” she said.But she said it only provisionally met reporting requirements for major medical events such as deaths or loss of limbs.”The VA said we didn’t fully report it under the circumstances that they would like,” Manley said.She said the home didn’t have to submit a plan of correction but has tightened its internal policies to make sure notification requirements are properly followed.Manley said the results of a VA survey generally were good for the Rifle facility, as were the results of a similar survey by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.Said Shaw, “We give great care and we welcome anybody … to take a tour.”He said he has followed the media reports of problems with conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.”It’s a very, very sad situation. We owe these men and women who served a very high duty now to care for them because they protected us,” he said. “I believe we’re giving very good care.”The Rifle facility has 100 beds, and 77 clients currently live there. Shaw said about 75 percent are men.He has worked there 14 years. The home will be marking its 20th anniversary this summer.Manley said the state plans to apply for VA grants to do some remodeling at the facility, but for aesthetic rather than safety reasons. For example, the entrance may be changed so visitors first see the residential lounge area rather than administrative offices, she said.Shaw said the facility recently was able to put in new flooring, but funding for remodeling could be years away. He said there is a lot of competition for VA grants, and money is likely to go to facilities with safety issues first.
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