Veterans in respite program relocated
The VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System relocated a short-term care program used by dozens of Western Pennsylvania veterans and their families, moving respite services from the H.J. Heinz campus in O'Hara to about 16 nursing homes across the region.
VA officials would not say how long the services might remain in the nursing homes. In a written statement, they said plumbing and construction projects at the Heinz campus prompted the shift.
The respite program houses veterans with special needs for several days at a time, relieving family members who otherwise care for the patients in their homes. Caregiver Cathy Shook of Plum said the nursing home move is a disappointment to her husband, James Shook, 68, a Vietnam War veteran and Alzheimer's disease patient who receives occasional VA respite care.
“They want to talk war stories and play cards and do what they do at these centers, not be put in a nursing home where you're among people who are moaning. It's just sad,” Cathy Shook said.
She said she cut short his recent stay in a Murrysville nursing home where the Pittsburgh VA directed him. He became depressed in the facility, part of the Texas-based network of Golden Living senior homes.
Federal privacy laws prevent Golden Living from discussing the care of individual patients, said Melissa Sullivan, the facility administrator at the Murrysville home. She confirmed the home accepts VA referrals under an active contract.
“We strive every day to meet the needs of our patients and residents through integrity and accountability and focusing on excellence and quality. The safety, care and well-being of our patients always comes first,” Sullivan said.
Pittsburgh VA officials said they guide respite care patients only to licensed homes in “our established community networks.”
Switching patients to nursing homes “has supported our ability to provide caregivers with the temporary relief they deserve in order to reduce caregiver stress, by providing 24/7 care to their loved ones closer to their homes,” VA officials said in the statement released by spokesman William Leuthold.
The average stay in nursing homes in these cases has been 10 to 14 days, they said.
Leuthold said the community living center at the VA Heinz campus stopped referrals in May for inpatient respite admissions. The Pittsburgh VA continued to serve 24 veterans who had scheduled respite stays through the end of 2013. The VA said it received no complaints since May about respite care stays redirected to the nursing homes.
Construction and plumbing work at the living center diverted 52 respite care patients into the nursing homes since May, according to the Pittsburgh VA.
VA officials did not respond to questions about when that work might be completed, or how the nursing homes are compensated.
Cathy Shook said she would push lawmakers for an explanation.
“What happens to respite patients? It's not fair to them to be put in nursing homes,” she said.
Adam Smeltz is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Lightning causes 2 fires as storm rattles Western Pa.
- Icy water, donations to fight ALS flow with social media’s help
- Barred Mt. Oliver firefighter turns up in gear at blaze, spurs investigation
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra makes ‘great strides’ financially, audit shows
- Pittsburgh eyes plan to resolve impasse over Hill District project on former Civic Arena site
- Officers involved in shootings relay physical, emotional toll of incidents
- Renowned forensic pathologist Wecht critical of 3rd autopsy in Ferguson death
- Development deal set for hotel, convention space, international trade center near Pittsburgh International Airport
- College-bank deals inspire calls for openness from regulators
- Newsmaker: Joseph McCamey
- Artificial quakes cause less shaking, study finds