Nursing assistants at The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans have been given their pink slips.
In Michigan, almost 150 nursing assistants working in a state-run home for veterans have been told they are being laid off. The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, one of two state-run hospitals for veterans, currently cares for more than 700 veteran residents.
Governor Rick Snyder has approved the privatization of the nursing assistant jobs as a way to save an estimated $4 million each year for the state of Michigan. Other services provided to the home such as laundry and security are already outsourced to private companies.
"Quality care for our elderly service members should always be a priority over cost savings," commented veterans disability lawyer James Fausone. "And the concern of some individuals is that cost-cutting measures may mean that quality care is being sacrificed."
One of the vet residents filed a lawsuit regarding the privatization, alleging that he and his fellow residents were facing “significant injury… abuse and neglect at the hands of a private company.” A judge ruled in favor of the vet and halted the plans, but the case was dismissed last month and the privatization implementation plans are now moving forward.
Michigan’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has stated that it is providing proactive job hunting help to the nursing assistants in the form of a rapid response workforce development team. The nursing assistants have also been informed that they can apply for their former jobs under the new management. In addition, a three-judge panel stated that several allegations of contract works who provided inadequate care did not mean every contracted worker would provide substandard care, and that no veterans were required to live at The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and if any vets felt they were receiving substandard care, they were free to leave. The Governor's Deputy Press Secretary issues a statement that the privatization would allow for "the best possible health care" while saving the
taxpayers significant money. U.S.