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VT Vets Home Won't Lose Federal Funds

The Vermont Veterans' home is no longer in danger of losing Medicare and Medicaid funding after passing a key inspection this week.

The Bennington nursing facility faced decertification at the end of August because of deficiencies cited in recent inspections. Officials at the home said the home could not continue to operate without the federal funds.

The Vermont Veterans' Home narrowly averted decertification a year ago as well. During that crisis Jospeph Krawczyk, a retired colonel and former Bennington legislator, became chairman of the home’s trustees.

“This whole year we’ve been focusing on training,”  Krawczyk says. “We’ve been looking at patient case loads; we’ve been getting everybody involved, sharing ideas, helping each other out. For example when you come in the morning, the busy time is when we’re feeding our residents and you’ll find maintenance folks out there helping the nurses deliver food to the patients, you’ll find my administrator on the floor doing the same thing.”

Recent citations included and instance in which staff took too long to answer a patient’s call bell. Krawczyk says efforts at improvement are ongoing.

The state-run home also has a projected three-point-five million dollar deficit for 2014.

The legislature appropriated two million dollars to help with the home’s 2013 budget. A similar request is expected for the coming year.

Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding says that shouldn’t be necessary. But Spaulding adds that a recent report commissioned by the legislature foresees a growing demand for facilities like the vet’s home.

“So if the positive momentum stays on the quality of care,” Spaulding says, “And if the marketing and outreach is beefed up, which is the plan of the board and the management; I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t get the veterans home into a self-sufficient situation.”

Spaulding says the sooner that happens, the better.

Susan Keese was VPR's southern Vermont reporter, based at the VPR studio in Manchester at Burr & Burton Academy. After many years as a print journalist and magazine writer, Susan started producing stories for VPR in 2002. From 2007-2009, she worked as a producer, helping to launch the noontime show Vermont Edition. Susan has won numerous journalism awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her reporting on VPR. She wrote a column for the Sunday Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. Her work has appeared in Vermont Life, the Boston Globe Magazine, The New York Times and other publications, as well as on NPR.
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