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Change of management at St. Louis Veterans Home pleases relatives

Veterans Home resident Curtis Washington shares his concerns as his wife, Sandra, holds a microphone at an event, October 2017.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

The embattled head of the St. Louis Veterans Home could lose his job following a state investigation into conditions there.

Air National Guard, Col. Grace Link, interim executive director of the Missouri Veterans Commission, wants to fire Veterans Home director Rolando Carter, who has been accused of mismanagement.

Link also plans to hire 36 nursing assistants for the home, where some residents complained that they were abused and neglected.

The proposed changes come after months of complaints by residents and their family members. An independent investigation into the Veterans Home requested by Gov. Eric Greitens verified residents’ complaints.

Greitens also called for Carter to be fired and appointed five new members to the commission, which oversees veterans homes in Missouri. The Veterans Commission selected Link as its leader to replace Larry Kay, who resigned from the commission.

Sandra Washington, whose husband Curtis Washington has lived at the home since 2012, is pleased that the state is taking action to improve conditions there.

“That could be a start, because right now they don’t have many nurses, and most of them have to float from one unit to another,” Washington said.

The commission put Carter on administrative leave last month. On Dec. 22, it named Stan Smith the interim director of the Veterans Home. Smith previously oversaw the state’s veterans homes.

Washington, whose husband is disabled, hopes the new management will prevent her worst fears about the facility.

“I really think that it’s a shame, because I am fearful one day that I’m going to get a call from them saying that my husband has expired, and it’s probably going to be through negligence,” she said.

Others with family members at the home hope the new management will bring about a better environment for the veterans living there.

“We just want people taken care of without the family going through all types of hell to get the care that they’re promised in their mission statement,” said Jim Luebbert, whose father, Ken Leubbert, died after a brief stay at the home.

Luebbert said he wants the state to hold others responsible for what occurred at the Veterans Home, including employees and members of the Veterans Commission.

Members of the Veterans Commission did not respond to a request for comment.

Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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