Families of veterans allege abuse, neglect, and improper care at St. Louis Veterans Home

BELLEFONTAINE NEIGHBORS, Mo. - Neglect, improper care and abuse.

Those are some of the very shocking allegations that are being brought against the St. Louis Veterans Home in north county.

Several families including Jim Luebbert came together in a meeting Monday night held at North Kirkwood Middle School to talk about what they said are serious issues at the care facility.

“We are family members that were there on a daily basis and my father was given inadequate care,” said Luebbert. “So our goal is to speak up for the people that don’t have families that can speak for them.”

Luebbert said that the home seemed like the ideal place for his 85-year-old veteran father, William “Ken” Luebbert who suffered from ALS.

Luebbert explained that within a few days of living at the facility, his father was not getting a change of clothes, was not receiving assistance with his hygiene, or being taken to the bathroom.

He said that he brought the complaints to the nursing assistant director and social work department but he claims that all he continued to receive were responses such as, "That shouldn’t happen," or "We’ll look into to it."

“His medication wasn’t given to him properly, he was supposed to have his blood pressure taken, before each time he got his medication and there were inconsistencies in record keeping,” Luebbert explained.

Among the speakers at Tuesday night’s meeting was former State Representative and Missouri House Budget Chairman, Rick Stream.

Stream said that for the past seven months he, along with his friend Dory Poholsky, spent hundreds of hours interviewing veterans, their family members, and employees at the home.

They said they discovered a pattern of abuse, mistreatment and neglect that is "shocking."

“Veterans are quoted as saying, ‘I’d rather be dead than living here, this home is like a killing field,’" Stream said during his speech.

In a letter to FOX 2, administrator Rolando Carter wrote:

“In July, MVC received a series of complaints from a small group of family members from the St. Louis Veterans Home. MVC immediately started a comprehensive investigation that included over 400 hours of Central Office Staff involvement on-site in the first two weeks. This investigation included a complete review of all allegations and concerns, numerous Veteran, Family, and Staff interviews, and extensive medical record reviews. Central Office Staff continued to investigate and maintain an increased physical presence in the facility for over 2 months.

"Any and all allegations involving patient care were looked into and thoroughly reviewed. MVC took the opportunity to address communication and customer service issues between Veterans and their families and the facility staff.

"In addition, in September the home had an unannounced annual inspection by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The family members involved in the initial complaints had the opportunity to meet with the members of the VA Survey Team. After four days of interviews, record reviews, and observations, it was determined that the home was in full compliance with all 158 VA standards.

"MVC strives to always listen to and address any and all concerns expressed by our Veterans and their families and has policies and procedures in place to accomplish this.

"In this situation, an appropriate and timely investigation was completed and the following actions were taken:

• Implementation of Grand Rounds by Administration, Director of Nursing Services, Social Workers, Charge Nurses, Therapy Staff and CNAs to create an open line of communication to maintain the Veteran’s optimal level of care and independence
• Appointment of a Guest Services Director to serve as a concierge to both family members and Veterans to be a one-stop-shop to escalate concerns to appropriate departments including Administration as needed
• An evening shift Administrator was added for consistent operations oversight and to address any family and Veteran concerns
• Veterans and family members will soon be notified of a new toll-free number that Veterans and family can call if they have issues, concerns, or suggestions.
• Family Council meetings have increased from quarterly to monthly for improved communication
• The Administrator has made his direct cell number available throughout the home to answer questions or concerns 24/7
• Increased staff education and training on numerous patient care topics."