Brockton VA Health Center investigation reveals 'blatant disregard'

Elizabeth Howe
November 14, 2018 - 10:15 am

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Considering its one-star rating, you would think federal investigators knew what they were walking into when they visited a Veterans Affairs nursing home in Brockton, Ma. What they found were nurses asleep in darkened rooms and locked cafeterias while veteran patients went unattended. And this was just the beginning. 

The complaint came from licensed practical nurse Patricia Labossiere. She submitted a report to a federal whistleblower agency, the Office of Special Counsel when her supervisors ignored her. Labossiere started working at the Brockton VA Healthcare Center in December but quit in July. 

Labossiere's report paints a deeply concerning picture of the care at the VA facility — unemptied bedside urinals, patients without clean water overnight, nurses sleeping during shifts, and veterans left unattended for extended periods of time. 

“I am a no-nonsense nurse who took a vow to take care of patients,” Labossiere told USA Today. “We are there to be kind and treat others as we would want to be treated. I could not believe that this was how we treat the people that fought for our country.”

Pallas Wahl, a spokesperson from the VA said that immediate corrective action was taken, and the nurses found sleeping no longer work at the Brockton VA. After the investigation, Wahl says the investigators "did not find evidence of veteran harm or neglect" and the facility's one-star rating is undeserved.

Special Counsel Henry Kerner — who viewed the results of the investigation that came from Labossiere's complaint — says otherwise. 

“Because a brave whistleblower came forward, VA investigators were able to substantiate that patients at the Brockton (nursing home) were routinely receiving substandard care,” Kerner said in an emailed statement to USA Today.

There's a high likelihood that the situation at the Brockton health center is not an isolated event. The Department of Veterans Affairs recently released ratings for all of its 133 nursing homes — 45 of them received the lowest rating possible. These facilities serve 46,000 infirm veterans across the country. 

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