Cry Havoc: VA Nursing Home Data Unmasked

Our suspicions of a cover-up hold water, folks. Several members of Congress have officially requested the data on quality of life at the nation’s 133 VA assisted living facilities… and they’re found to be below average for facilities of this type.

The highest-ranking Democrat on the House VA Committee, Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), calls these revelations “a betrayal of veterans’ trust and wellbeing.” Just this Tuesday, the VA called the allegations “fake news,” but released the data under pressure from Congress to do so.

While the first of the released data was simply ratings on a scale that the VA had devised for its own use, subsequent releases showed harder numbers: prevalence of antipsychotic drug prescription, patient deterioration over time, and rates of infection or injury.

VA facilities are scoring below average on these measures, and since they can’t make up a system that improves the look of those numbers, it’s hard to hide that from the public. Walz also said that concealing this data until the last minute “makes matters infinitely worse and is nothing more than fake transparency.”

Both the House and Senate committees investigating this data are Republican-led. They’ve requested briefings on the surrounding firestorm, and the first meetings are set to be held next week.

As you may be aware, we’ve been sending out feelers about this data for a while. As our five-star commenter Seymore Klearly pointed out when the ratings “data” first came out, this is “a total piece of propaganda… so poorly written that it’s insulting to all the veterans who read it.” A sentiment apparently echoed by the House and Senate VA committees and USA Today!

So it seems that we have more to go on this week than last. The ratings figures are still the same crap we saw last week – a system the VA decided they’d invent themselves to make it look good. But the new press release has REAL information. Which is, naturally, more troubling information than what the administration wanted us to see.

Oh but don’t worry, folks. VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour is all over this one! On the case! We’re saved! Hoo-rah. [insert other sarcastic comment here]

Even under a system of ratings the VA devised ITSELF, almost half the facilities – 58 out of 133 – were in the lowest possible category. That’s a major departure from the private sector. Cashour will tell you that’s because VA patients are generally sicker than civilian elders. But are we really in such a poor state that THE LOWEST POSSIBLE CATEGORY should make sense to us?

RELATED: VA Supposedly Not Obfuscating Data, Anymore

A bipartisan group of House reps simply isn’t having that. They wrote to the VA about Tampa and Bay Pines facilities (two of the one-star “honorees”), imploring them to attend to the needs of their veteran patients, and adding that Cashour’s claim was “insufficient.” I mean, understatement of the century, but it’s a nonzero amount of verbal support. Hey thanks, Congress! *wink*

As for the more concrete information, it ain’t pretty. If we’re VA patients, about a third of us are reporting pain at least once a week. Eleven percent of us had a catheter left in too long versus not even two percent for civilians. (Geez, why is THAT discrepancy so big?! Terrible!) Eight and a half percent reported bad bedsores versus about six percent of civilians.

Oh hey, and if you’re in my neck of the woods? Twin Cities VA got one star. Woo! In case you’re wondering if fancy lawyers don’t have to deal with spotty care… if we served this country, we absolutely do. Great to see my potential future unfolding so nicely.

But hey, we’ve got good old Cashour. What’s your take on this, Cashour? How do we wave away THIS rash of uncomfortable data?

“The VA appreciates the lawmakers’ concerns and will respond to them directly.” Hmm, okay. Clearly not that directly, though, since we just asked you for a response and your response was a response about how there’s going to be a response soon. Leave it to a bureaucrat, right?

So that’s where we’re at, loyal readers. And let’s give a final shout-out to this egregious lapse of transparency from the VA… Congratulations, y’all! We’re on fire! Probably because there’s a plastic tube stuck in our collective bladder.


Similar Posts


  1. Well Ben no big surprise but this is an area of the VA I have had dealings with not as a patient but as a RN 20 years ago and it proves to me, concretely, that seldom do things change within the VA. Bed sores? catheters left in to long? increase in need for pain control? psych drugs to numb our brains and make us compliant? (google these things friends and look at the pictures). This group, most importantly, is the group of our vets most vulnerable (to many reasons to list) and sadly a lot of WW2 vets are falling like flies. Now that I wrote that maybe that is the plan. I will talk to Patty Murray about this. Us as advocates and a whole community must ask ourselves should we not protect the most vulnerable then work down? Don’t get angry I am asking myself also. I will do this though. I am going to travel to 5 VA ran nursing homes in the PNW and check them out. I know how to get past locked doors because I have the credentials to do so and who wouldn’t give a prospective RN with a MSN-PH a great tour. Don’t worry I won’t break any laws unless it is to save a life and if that happens you all out there bail me out and please Ben represent me. I get back to you by the end of summer with first hand what I see or even worse what they try to hide! Their reason is “vets health is poorer” slapped yourself in the face with that statement VA!

  2. Get on the law makers. They continually pass unfunded or greatly insufficiently funded mandates for the VA. Or they simply aren’t following the money and prosecuting the fraud.

    Health Net, one of the two Choice contractors failed to pay 18 of the 25 visits I made. 52 were authorized. Where did the money go?

  3. cj ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ ‘̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿̿ says:

    ” we just asked you for a response and your response was a response about how there’s going to be a response soon”

    Just like filing a claim………………meanwhile back at the bureaucracy, two years later………………..

    The VA has a warped sense of the word “soon” yeahhhhhhh thats the ticket.

      1. cj ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿’̿̿̿̿̿’̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ ‘̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\=(•̪̀●́)=o/̵͇̿̿/’̿̿ ̿ ̿̿ says:

        WyldeChylde, some are pushing 10….

  4. Reviewed the map associated with the “star” ratings. I was not surprised to see Wilkes-Barre VA on the list of 1 star facilities.
    My former father in law was a resident there for the last 3 years of his life. I can tell you, the more you pointed out shortcomings in care, asked to talk to the Doc or the charge nurse the worse his care became. Even when cages were rattled with the higher ups, no change.
    Tom finally passed 2 years ago from cancer that was widespread through his body. A month prior to his death, in a meeting with his PCP, the family was told his cancer was minimal.


    1. I wasn’t surprised to see wilkes-barre a 1★, lebanon got a 2★, but I’m sure they manipulated the data or payed somebody off, that place is about as rotten as hey get.

  5. So sad – things in the VA could be so good! A representation of how things can work out for the best for all. Yet so much cronyism, nepotism, corruption and deceit. Some physicians are conscientious and provide quality care and others are complacent and apathetic collecting the big money paycheck. And then there are the individuals that manage the VA system, self-serving sociopaths, enough said.

    The VA system is still being governed by the “Good Ole Boy” system and next we are going to have to deal with the millennials (LOL), just kidding.


    1. It already has but you have to be a Private Prosecutor, (there is such a thing) and put the first one on trial like the great Fringe Jacket wearing Lawyer (“Fire in the Belly”, who spoke at our law school graduation), did to the guy who bragged he could never be convicted of murder, cuz he was “too smart” All you have to do is take down the first criminal and the others will leave like rats escaping a sinking ship.
      Taking down the VA boobs is like being a sniper, you have to identify the most important target and take out the “strongest link” in the enemy chain. That is identify who is the worst of the offenders and prosecute him/her, and do not take “NO” for an answer. “Prosecute and Sue, Prosecute and Sue, Prosecute and Sue”
      Even the wiliest of the rats will get the message.

  6. What about that facility in Oklahoma where a veteran died from Sepsis? Did they strenuously omit on the final report that the Sepsis was brought on by non-sterile maggot infestation?

  7. It would be interesting to run a comparison of the VA facilities with the existing state veterans homes to see what the comparison statistics are since the VA is claiming that because they serve a sicker population – their statistics are poorer. It would seem that the state homes would have similar statistics and I bet that they do not! ANother thing – every time I have looked at either the state homes or the VA run locations I can’t help but notice that things that private homes take for granted are not available at either the state or VA run homes – like continuing care – allowing vets to live as independently as possible as long as possible – even with a pet if they are able to take care of it, then a move to assisted living and then a move to a nursing home environment. Every home I have looked at treats its’ residents like patients – and not only like patients but like helpless patients who gave up self-determination when they moved in. Small (and frequently shared) rooms, minimal personal determination or continuing effort to promote/recover independence and to allow for individual choices.

  8. “[…And let’s give a final shout-out to this egregious lapse of transparency from the VA…]”

    As transparent as a steaming pile of poo. Maybe the VA’s transparency can be found on the fly’s wings sitting upon steaming pile of poo….oh, that’s right, that fly is none other than Curt Cashour, Blow Fly Extraordinaire!

    1. Every time the VA steps in its own shit, they windup Cashour and the propaganda machine. Like you said the other day, when you piss the VA off, must be doing something right. To add to that when the VA says no, or refuse to do something, there’s a good probability they screwed something up somewhere.

    1. In the Bible is told the story about Jesus going through the temple and throwing out the money changers. Jesus didn’t advocate changes through the Roman Senate. time to take the administrators with all of the excuses by their throats and throw them out without any compensation. More B.S. from the VA. JUST DO IT.
      iN OTHER WORDS, “Get thee hence, Satan”

Comments are closed.