HARRISBURG – (RealEstateRama) — Majority chairmen of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware) expressed his disappointment in Pennsylvania’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale for making wild assumptions based on his audit of wait lists and grievance procedures at the state’s six veterans’ homes.
“The auditor general’s claims that the care and treatment of veterans was affected by limited clerical errors is outrageous and his comments smack of grandstanding,” Barrar said.
The audit, which was very limited in scope, looked at DMVA’s state veterans’ homes wait lists and grievance procedures; the audit did not evaluate the safety, medical treatment or welfare of residents in the homes. Two of the audit findings revolved around wait lists and one finding dealt with a newly implemented grievance process.
“It’s important to point out that the audit did not review the state veterans’ homes strategic plan or studies of bed allocations so the auditor general’s references about lack of planning on the part of DMVA were simply sensational comments he made that were not based on any facts uncovered by the audit,” added Barrar.
The two administrative findings regarding the wait list policy were either corrected on the spot or are in the process of being addressed. DMVA has since retrained and reeducated staff on the admissions process and is updating its wait list policy so that it is not ambiguous in any way.
“It’s irresponsible for the auditor general to claim that care to veterans was delayed due to administrative errors when, in fact, DMVA made exceptions to their admission process to account for extenuating circumstances that actually benefitted veterans most in need,” said Barrar. “Our goal is to help the great veterans who have served our Commonwealth and our country. There are times that common sense must prevail even as policies require updates.”
The third audit finding focused on a new statewide grievance policy that DMVA had implemented one month prior to the audit; previously each home managed its own grievance policy. DMVA’s state veterans’ homes, which are regularly inspected by regulatory agencies such as the Pa. Dept. of Health, Pa. Dept. of Human Services and the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, has not received any deficiencies on its grievance policy.
“DMVA recognized the need for a standardized grievance process and began implementation just prior to the AG’s audit. Additional staff training and an online grievance tracking database were items that DVMA were already working on at the time of the audit,” Barrar said.
DMVA provides resources and assistance to Pennsylvania’s approximately 916,000 veterans and their families and it manages six extended care state veterans’ homes located in Erie, Hollidaysburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton and Spring City.
“Providing for the needs of veterans is a task that should never be secondary to possible political gains. This is important work performed by many, and insulting it by writing a report – for the purpose of telling a story different than reality – is inexcusable,” Barrar said. “The people of Pennsylvania deserve an accurate report, not one with data that was taken out of context.”
Representative Stephen E. Barrar
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans