Lt. Governor announces investigation into allegations of improper care at St. Louis Veterans Home

BELLEFONTAINE NEIGHBORS, Mo. – Enough is enough. That is what many families of veterans at the St. Louis Veterans Home in Bellefontaine Neighbors are saying.

This comes after many of them raised concerns of alleged neglect and improper care toward veterans residing at the north county facility.

On Tuesday, Missouri Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson announced that his office is launching a full investigation into those complaints.

In the announcement, Parson’s office said that an ongoing investigation over the past several months has revealed allegations of mistreatment and inadequate care of residents of the Missouri Veterans Home in St. Louis.

“I am deeply concerned by the allegations of mistreatment and inadequate care towards veterans of our armed forces at the Missouri Veterans Home in St. Louis.

“My office has conducted numerous interviews with family members as well as current and formers staff members of the facility to document their experiences in the hope of enacting needed change. We are also troubled by allegations of higher than average use of anti-psychotic medication on an as needed basis.

As a veteran, I am personally offended by any allegation of mistreatment, and I am working with state agencies to ensure this is not happening at any veteran’s facility in Missouri.”

Meanwhile, Cheri Dejournett said she’s been documenting the many issues she has seen with her own eyes at the north county veterans home.

“I’ve seen veterans left neglected in that dining room, I’ve seen paraplegics pushed up to the dining room table,” Dejournett said.

Dejournett’s 81-year-old father, a retired Air Force veteran, suffered a stroke last year and had to be admitted at the facility with hopes of receiving proper care. But Dejournett said cellphone pictures instead show the nightmare that her dad has been living in for the past several months.

“I’ve seen diapers on the floor, I’ve seen poopy rags on the floor and on table tops in my father’s room,” Dejournett said. “I’ve seen urine on the floor.”

Dejournett said that at times she noticed that her dad wasn’t being fed properly or given enough liquids to stay hydrated.

“His health is related to the amount of hydration he gets,” she said. “He was recently hospitalized and the staff at the ER told me he was dehydrated.”

Dejournett said that on one occasion, she witnessed a nurse bathing her father but that the nurse did not adjust the water temperature as per his request.

Dejournett said that she believes the hot water left him with burns.

“The next morning, I came in and he was covered in blisters on one side,” Dejournett said. “And when I asked if this was related to the shower, they told me for days that it wasn’t related to the shower.”

Dejournett said that she also witnessed many other veterans not being looked after properly.

That includes Glenda Adler’s husband, who suffers from Parkinson’s and dementia.

“It wasn’t at a time that I normally come in, like early in the morning or maybe after a meal, and I found that he hasn’t had a meal and that he was just left in bed,” she said.

Adler believes there is a shortage of staff and not enough training given to current employees who can, in turn, attend to and care for the veterans.

“Let’s say you get a new nurse or a new aide who hasn’t seen him before. They don’t know what his care plan is and they don’t check,” Adler said.

Fox 2/KPLR 11 reached out to administrator Rolando Carter for a comment about the Parson’s decision to investigate but we did not receive an immediate response.

In an email to Fox2/KPLR 11, Bryan Hunt, the deputy director of the Missouri Veterans Commission, sent a copy of his own statement that he said he read to his commissioners on Monday during a closed session.

Part of that statement read:

“As you know, last July we became aware of a packet of information that contained various complaints from a group of family members at the STL home. There was also involvement from individuals from the community that were not residents or family members of the home.

"You are already aware our thorough investigation and findings. Since that time the facility has had an unannounced annual regulatory survey conducted by the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs which resulted in a deficiency free survey that I feel validated our team’s earlier comprehensive investigation.

"It is my opinion that from the beginning there was a motivating factor present that went beyond patient care complaints. It is my opinion that at least some of the individuals involved had a racist agenda that they wanted to accomplish.

I am not saying that all of the concerns and complaints were without merit but it is definitely my opinion that there was an agenda present to replace the administrator of the STL Veterans Home because of race. I was present during several of the face to face meetings with individuals involved with this and I believe there was a common theme of racism involved from the beginning.”

Our news partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that senators Roy Blunt and Clair McCaskill are supporting Lt. Governor Parson’s full investigation.

If you have a family member who has experience mistreatment in any area veterans care facility, please contact Fox 2 News.