'Tut’ Fann Veteran: Staffing at facility leaving patients unattended

'Tut’ Fann Veteran: Staffing at facility leaving patients unattended

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The first resident veteran at the Floyd E. ‘Tut’ Fann Veterans Home is speaking on the conditions inside the home.

The veteran said he/she has lived at the facility for a number of years.

WAFF 48 News is keeping the name of the individual private.

WAFF 48 News independently verified the veterans’ residence with other sources.

Concerns over staffing

The veteran said the staffing situation at the home has grown worse over the years.

He/she said there is a large personnel turnover due to work conditions and inadequate pay.

“You have people who work two shifts in a row, and you know that builds up on anybody.”

He/she said the home keeps the employees working to meet the state-mandated staffing levels, but those levels are inadequate.

“That standard is for a routine nursing home, and the shape we’re getting in, we’ve got a lot of 80 and 90-year-old people and it just requires more help.”

“The more time you have to spend with one of us, that cuts back on the time they can spend with the other people.”

The veteran described one scenario where he/she requested assistance via a call-light system, and it was an hour before a staffer physically entered the room.

The person who entered the room did not know the veteran needed help via the call light system.

The veteran said the delayed responses are a common occurrence among other veterans at the home.

The veteran said he/she has not personally seen any physical or emotional abuse of veterans at the home.

The veteran joins a current employee, a former employee, and a former family member of a ‘Tut’ Fann veteran alleging inadequate staffing.

WAFF 48 News reached out to the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs and the Alabama Department of Public Health for clarification on the Alabama nursing home standards.

The ADPH stated “There is no minimum number of required staff in nursing homes.”

The ADPH sent the attached link and cited a section which stated:

“Nursing Services. (1) The facility must have sufficient nursing staff to provide nursing and related services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident, as determined by resident assessments and individual plans of care. (2) Sufficient staff. The facility must provide services by sufficient numbers of licensed nurses and other nursing personnel on a 24-hour basis to provide nursing care to all residents in accordance with resident care plans: (a) The facility must use the services of a registered nurse for at least 8 consecutive hours a day, 7 days a week. (b) The facility must designate a registered nurse to serve as the director of nursing on a full time basis. (c) The director of nursing may serve as a charge nurse only when the facility has an average daily occupancy of 60 or fewer residents.”

The ADVA sent the attached link which states in part:

“The facility management must provide nursing services to ensure that there is direct care nurse staffing of no less than 2.5 hours per patient per 24 hours, 7 days per week in the portion of any building providing nursing home care.”

State and corporate response

WAFF 48 News reached out to HMR Veterans Services Inc., the company that runs the homes operations.

It sent the following statement:

"Staffing levels at Tut Fann far exceed the requirements. The Veterans Administration requires direct care nurse staffing of no less than 2.5 hours per patient per 24 hours, 7 days per week. Tut Fann provides, on average, direct care nurse staffing of 4 hours per patient per 24 hours, 7 days per week, exceeding the requirements by 60 percent. In addition to our direct care staff, we have numerous other registered nurses on staff who provide oversight and administrative duties. Tut Fann’s licensed administrator is also a registered nurse with a strong clinical background.

Our staff may work overtime to maintain these staffing levels, and we are grateful for their dedication to doing whatever is needed to care for the needs of our veterans."

WAFF 48 News requested documentation to support the claim of “4 hours per patient per 24 hours...” HMR has not yet provided any documentation.

WAFF 48 News reached out to the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs about the concerns of short staffing. It also did not send a statement, citing an ongoing investigation.

In March, ADVA Commissioner Kent Davis requested an investigation by the Alabama Department of Public Health into WAFF reported allegations of physical abuse.

A Federal VA inspection of the home in July 2018 found it to be “deficiency free.”

If you or a loved one is concerned about a veteran being mistreated at any home, the Alabama Department of Public Health can be contacted via:

  • The complaint hotline (1-800-356-9596)
  • By mail (P.O. Box 303017, Montgomery, AL 36130-3017)
  • Or its website

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