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Warner, Kaine press Virginia V-A medical centers on quality of nursing home care

Mark Warner, Tim Kaine on continuing resolutionU.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) pressed the Department of Veterans Affairs on the quality of care at nursing homes that serve Virginia’s veterans, following an investigation by USA Today and the Boston Globe that found that a majority of the VA’s 133 nursing homes – known as community living centers – have a higher percentage of residents suffering from pain and preventable complications than at comparable private care facilities.

In a letter to the heads of four VA medical centers that serve large numbers of Virginia veterans – in Hampton, Va.; Richmond, Va.; Salem, Va.; and Washington, D.C. – Sens. Warner and Kaine asked what steps they are taking to address problems at their nursing home facilities, which include unacceptably high rates of bedsores and serious pain among residents, among other issues.

“Detailed data on VA nursing homes previously undisclosed by the Department indicate that nursing homes in Hampton, Richmond, Salem, and Washington, D.C. have outcome metrics far worse than private facilities. According to the VA’s tracking system, the VA facilities scored on average below private nursing homes on 9 of 11 indicators,” the Senators wrote, highlighting areas where the VA data is particularly alarming.  

The Senators noted, “It is critical for the VA to be transparent about the quality of care provided to our nation’s veterans. Stakeholders, patients, and their families deserve to have a clear understanding of potential deficiencies. We are particularly interested in understanding what steps each of your facilities are taking to address and mitigate these serious problems, as shown by the data. Our nation’s veterans deserve the best care we have to offer. We must renew our commitment to ensuring that veterans have the high quality of care that is worthy of their service and sacrifice. It is imperative that you determine a plan to alleviate these issues in the coming weeks.”

Sens. Warner and Kaine recently supported an appropriations bill passed by the Senate that includes a provision ensuring data on nursing home facility outcomes will be made publicly available by the VA.