PA veterans homes suspend admissions

    Long-term care facilities won’t admit new patients until lawmakers decide on a new budget.

    A union of Pennsylvania health care workers says the stalled state budget is delaying care for veterans.

    Listen: [audio:090723tevets.mp3]

    The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs says Pennsylvania’s six veterans homes won’t accept new patients until the state budget impasse is resolved.

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    The long-term care facilities stopped admission on July 7th. Since that time, the VA has been unable to accept about 50 veterans who were at the top of the waiting list.

    Veterans activist Hal Donahue…

    Donahue: Beds are going empty and some of these people are in desperate need of it. Some literally could be homeless. They earned that benefit, this isn’t a welfare program, if you will.

    Nurses who belong to the Service Employees International Union are also speaking out. As state lawmakers work toward a budget compromise, the nurses are urging them to reject proposals that slash veterans funding.

    Kathy Burden is a nurse at the veterans home in Philadelphia.

    Burden: They’re afraid of the budget cuts, so they don’t want to admit anyone at this time. It’s a major concern because a lot of these veterans need a lot of care, and if they can’t get into this nursing home, they may be staying home and not really getting all the care that they could get. That’s just plain wrong, these men and women have served our country and they deserve better than that.

    Pennsylvania’s veterans homes provide a range of medical services from help with eating and bathing to 24-hour care for people with dementia.

    Kevin Cramsey is a spokesman for the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

    Cramsey: We have to be careful about making sure that we have the resources to take care of all the veterans in our homes when there’s this period of uncertainty, so to add to our population right now would not be a prudent thing to do.

    Concerned nurses rallied at the Philadelphia veterans facility July 23.

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