Funding secured for Vermont Veterans' Home - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Funding secured for Vermont Veterans' Home

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Some 150 veterans are no longer at risk of losing their home-- at least not in the immediate future.

"Had we been denied our CMS funding it would have been a $10 million disaster for Vermonters on an annual basis," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

The $10 million the Vermont Veterans' Home gets from Medicare and Medicaid-- and risked losing-- pays for two-thirds of the veterans at the facility. It's a gap the state said it couldn't make up. Now, it doesn't have to.

"They have concluded that we've made the changes we needed to make to continue to serve our veteran community in Bennington," Shumlin said.

That conclusion came from a federal government worker who checked up on the facility after finding instances of patient abuse back in August. Wednesday, the feds determined the appropriate education practices have been put in place to prevent any future neglect and inadequate care, but they'll be checking up more frequently.

"I'm thrilled with the result," Shumlin said. "I didn't think it would be as good of an outcome as it is."

But the union and the state workers down in Bennington are far from thrilled. They say these shortcomings stemmed from inadequate staffing at the facility causing unsafe overtime hours.   

"The state spent $835,000 on overtime pay this past year," said Mark Mitchell of VSEA.

That number checks out. According to the Vt. Human Resources Department, the state spent nearly $20 million in overtime pay for all state workers last year. The veterans' home makes up more than $835,000 of that expenditure.

"That is not safe for patients; it's not safe for caregivers. We'd like to see staffing addressed so caregivers are not asked to step up that much. It's just not safe," Mitchell said.

The state maintains the problem with staff comes down to a scheduling issue. State workers have an interesting analogy for the idea of shuffling their schedule around. They say it's like squeezing a balloon-- you're only moving the air around, but you won't fill any more space.

Related Stories:

Bennington veterans home loses federal support

Vt. veterans' home to plan for funding loss

Vt. Veterans' Home could lose millions in funding

Vt. Veterans' Home faces staffing crisis

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