VSEA’s legislative team leaders and other union staff visited the VVH on January 3 for a tour and a chance to conduct face-to-face meetings throughout the day with key VVH and public officials, such as Board of Trustees President Joseph Krawczyk and Senator Dick Sears (D-Bennington).
It’s been a few months now since the Vermont Veterans’ Home (VVH) narrowly escaped losing federal funding and certification, but according to many frontline VVH caregivers, the staffing issues that led to last fall’s crisis still exist and caregivers remain concerned about the Home’s future.
The caregivers’ ongoing concern prompted VSEA’s legislative team leaders and other union staff to visit the VVH on January 3 for a tour and a chance to conduct face-to-face meetings throughout the day with key VVH and public officials, such as Board of Trustees President Joseph Krawczyk and Senator Dick Sears (D-Bennington). On the tour representing VSEA were Executive Director Mark Mitchell, Legislative Director Steve Howard, Legislative Consultant Vince Illuzzi, Bennington Union Representative Kelly Burns, Organizer Tim Lenoch and Researcher Adam Norton. Several VVH caregivers also joined the tour and then met personally with the VVH decision makers to provide them firsthand accounts of what it is like today to work today the VVH and if the employees believe the situation that led to the crisis is being adequately addressed in a way that will help ensure the VVH can pass future inspections by the State and federal government.
“It was good for the caregivers to be able to sit and talk about their concerns privately with key players in the debate about the future of the Vets’ Home,” said Mitchell. “To a person, the caregivers continued to pound home the message that serious staffing issues continue to exist at the Vets’ Home and must be addressed…sooner not later. And with recent news that the Home is being watched even more closely now by the State and the feds, the caregivers warned that the risk of a new crisis will remain high, unless and until the Home’s staffing issues are resolved.” He added, “I think the tour and meetings were productive, especially because our caregivers were able to put some persistent and, frankly, untrue rumors about the Vets’ Home employees to bed and educate these folks more about the actual staffing issues at the Vets’ Home and their perceived problems with the Home’s day-to-day management.”