Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling for a fourth investigation in less than six months of the St. Louis Veterans Home in north St. Louis County, following a public meeting Monday where relatives and staff accused the facility of neglecting patients.
“These allegations are deeply disturbing,” Greitens, a Republican, wrote in a statement. “We will continue to demand the best for our veterans, and we will hold accountable those responsible for their care.”
The governor’s spokesperson, Parker Briden, said the office first received the reports in July, and initiated an investigation immediately. The Missouri Veterans Commission investigated twice, and did not find evidence to confirm the allegations, he said. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs then conducted an investigation, which found the 300-bed facility in compliance with all federal standards.
Missouri Public Safety Director Drew Juden said Wednesday that an independent investigation would be initiated.
But a growing group of relatives, staff and volunteers say they’ve been disappointed by previous attempts to substantiate their claims of neglect, missed medications and mistreatment of employees.
Dory Poholsky is a friend of a resident who first started gathering testimony from relatives about conditions at the Veterans Home last year. She said she questions the integrity of previous investigations by the Missouri Veterans Commission.
“It was like the wolf guarding the henhouse,” she said. “I really didn’t want to go public with this.”
Cheri DeJournett said she asked federal investigators to look into her claim that her father was scalded in a hot shower after an employee forgot to check the temperature of the water. But the VA’s report found no deficiencies.
“They were not interviewing the families that were unafraid to speak up. And when we asked them to interview us and investigate our family members’ backgrounds, they didn’t,” DeJournett said. “I hope that an independent investigation will reveal the problems, the systemic issues related to neglect, veterans being abused, family's complaints that go unaddressed.”
This week, St. Louis Veterans Home administrator Rolando Carter defended his organization. He said many of the relatives’ concerns, which were brought to him in May, have already been addressed.
“We found some of them were older complaints; some had already been addressed. And there were some newer complaints that we definitely wanted to field and get taken care of for those families,” Carter said. “It’s going pretty well.”
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