GRAND RAPIDS — House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) and state Reps. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) and Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) are calling for an investigation into the quality of health care provided at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and requesting the state Civil Service Commission revisit its decision to allow privatization of caretaker jobs at the home. The Civil Service Commission did not take patient care into consideration when deciding the fate of our veterans’ caretakers. Following the April 2 decision, 144 jobs were privatized, and many veterans at the home have said that the quality of care has been slipping ever since.

“The men and women who put their lives on the line to serve our country deserve the absolute best care we can give them,” Greimel said. “After hearing so many complaints and concerns from both veterans and staff members, we need to know how privatization has impacted residents at the home and whether their quality of care is being compromised.”

During a recent visit to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, 15 veterans and four staffers talked with the representatives about the quality of care at the home. Many spoke anonymously out of fear of retaliation. Patients relayed stories of low-quality care and high turnover among the caretaker staff, while staff members said that there are now fewer caretakers per veteran than there were before privatization. One quadriplegic veteran said he’d nearly been dropped twice by an untrained caretaker who didn’t know how to transfer him into his wheelchair.

“Our veterans have a right to expect better than this, and frankly, we should be demanding nothing but the best for them,” Brinks said. “As we approach the Fourth of July and reflect on all that has made our nation great, we’re reminded of the men and women at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans who made great sacrifices for us. It’s not acceptable to compromise on the quality of care.”

Greimel, Brinks and Dillon are demanding Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs investigate conditions at the home. They’re also calling on the Michigan Civil Service Commission to reconsider their April 2, 2013 decision allowing privatization of jobs at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, as the decision only took cost-cutting into consideration, but not the quality of care.

“After visiting with veterans at the home, it’s clear to me that we’ve taken a wrong turn and we need to correct that,” Dillon said. “We need to take a good look at the kind of care we’re offering our veterans, and we need to take steps to improve it. They’ve suffered with substandard care for three months already. We can’t wait any longer.”