As bills mount, daughter of veteran frustrated with state VA nursing home system
PROSPERITY, S.C. (WIS) - The daughter of a South Carolina veteran says she’s having to “sell memories” to keep her father cared for.
Prosperity resident Donna Hudson said her father served in World War II and the Korean War as a member of the Navy.
She said in March she was no longer able to care for him given his inability to walk. In immediate need of a nursing home, she said she placed him in a private home in Newberry. WIS is keeping the name of the man and the name of the facility private to protect his privacy.
“He was really lucky to get into when he did. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to [due to the COVID-19 pandemic]” she said.
His good fortune came at a price. She said her family has spent $24,000 for his nursing home services since March. Hudson said she’s in the process of organizing an estate sale of her father’s belongings to help pay for the costs.
She’s tried to move him into the more affordable state VA system but said she’s running into issues. She said miscommunications and the agency’s inability to process and document paperwork has delayed the process.
“I was shuffled from one phone number to another phone number to another phone number,” she said.
She later stated: “It’s been very frustrating. I can’t get anything done. I can’t make any progress, and I don’t really know who to talk to.”
The state VA nursing home system began re-admitting new residents on July 15.
She forwarded WIS an email chain from April and May with a representative from the Richard M. Campbell Nursing Home.
The official stated in April, “We have received the application you sent us,” but also requests she complete other transition documents.
It states the estimated wait time to be “3-5 months.”
In May, the official states her father is “in line for assessment, which...will resume when the VA allows us to resume operation as normal.”
Hudson said she has provided all the documentation necessary.
On Wednesday, the spokesperson for the state VA agency emailed WIS stating “it is to our understanding that Miss Hudson has not submitted an application for her father to be admitted into the nursing home that she desires him to be placed.”
The agency gave the following statement:
“Because of COVID-19, there has been a waiting list for Veterans seeking to be approved to be admitted into VA nursing homes in South Carolina. As of recent, VA nursing homes have re-started the process of evaluating those applications to get approved Veterans into the nursing homes that their families desire. It is important that families understand an application for residency has to be submitted and approved. There are several qualifications the Veteran must meet to be approved for residency in a state-run VA nursing facility. The Veteran must have a DD214 to prove Veteran status, and test negative for COVID-19. When the application is submitted, the Veteran will have to be evaluated by nursing staff to determine if the VA facility can provide the appropriate level of care.”
When WIS presented the email chain to the agency, the spokesperson said the agency would be getting in contact with the Richard M. Campbell Nursing Home about Hudson’s paperwork.
The South Carolina Department of Mental Health oversees the state VA nursing homes, and sent the following statement:
“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning in mid-March, the State’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC), advised nursing homes in South Carolina to halt admissions to prevent the inadvertent introduction of COVID-19 into nursing homes, given the extreme vulnerability of nursing home residents to severe sickness from the virus. In keeping with such guidance, admissions to all four SCDMH nursing homes stopped effective March 13, 2020.
In June and July, the Department’s Division of Long Term Care Services, in consultation with all of the Administrators of the agency’s four nursing homes began been making preliminary plans to safely begin admitting new residents to the agency’s nursing care facilities again. Effective July 15th, SCDMH, using criteria recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and SC DHEC, began to allow for admissions to its nursing homes, but with significant limitations and requirements.
As a result of the earlier freeze on admissions, all SCDMH nursing homes have the needed space for isolating new admissions (one of the new criteria). However, like its hospitals, the available bed capacity of the nursing homes has been reduced in order to both maintain separate individual rooms for newly admitted residents, as well as some vacant, separate rooms for isolating residents who may subsequently be confirmed or suspected of being infected. For that reason, the Department’s nursing home capacity to admit and house additional residents remains below pre-COVID levels.”
It’s unclear if or when Hudson’s father will be transferred, but her frustration remains.
“I would say that if you’re counting on the government to help you in a crisis situation, you’re wrong. Because it’s not going to happen,” she said. “There’s nobody home, the doors are locked, nobody cares. That’s the impression I’ve gotten.”
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