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(AZ GOV)Napolitano aides knew of veterans home woes
East Valley Tribune ^ | 31 March 2007 | Dennis Welch,

Posted on 03/31/2007 6:17:09 AM PDT by radar101

Top aides to Gov. Janet Napolitano were aware of problems at the Arizona State Veteran Home six weeks before details of patient neglect were made public.

Susan Gerard, the director for the Arizona Department of Health Services, said Friday she called the governor’s co-chief of staff Alan Stephens the evening of Feb. 9.

Earlier that day, state health workers had completed a routine inspection of the home where they found patients were being ignored and in some cases forced to sit in soiled undergarments for hours.

Those discoveries set off a series of e-mails in the following days among three members of the governor’s staff and state health officials about conditions at the nursing home. The 200-bed facility in Phoenix is home to some of the state’s oldest veterans.

Copies of the e-mails obtained by the Tribune show that Napolitano’s press secretary Jeanine L’Ecuyer, health care policy adviser January Contreras and Stephens were told about the grim results of the inspection.

“Holy cow. We need data ASAP on the State Veterans Home. What exactly happened? Where are the people going? (Please) let me know what’s going on. Thanks,” L’Ecuyer wrote in an e-mail to Contreras and Stephens on Feb. 11.

Napolitano has said she didn’t know about the troubles at the home until March 23, shortly before details of the audit were made public by a Phoenix newspaper. The governor was in Washington, D.C., on Friday and was unavailable for comment.

The revelations came as a surprise to some Capitol insiders because earlier this week L’Ecuyer said she didn’t know why the governor wasn’t told about the inspection. But it turns out she was among the first in the governor’s office to learn about the audit, according to the e-mails.

L’Ecuyer said Friday no one told the governor because they were assured by DHS officials that they had taken care of the situation. She went on to say that she does not know if the governor’s staff should have handled the situation differently.

Several state employees resigned, were fired or disciplined amid the fallout of the investigation. That includes the resignation earlier this week of Patrick Chorpenning, director of the Arizona Department of Veterans Services.

In the e-mails, state health officials told the governor’s staff members they were staying at the home until they could guarantee patients were taken care of properly. They also noted that patients were not supervised while smoking cigarettes. Some patients were found with burn holes in their clothing.

The accounts of neglect also showed up in a March 16 report by DHS that was hand-delivered to the governor’s office.

Yet Gerard said she could have done more to impress the gravity of the situation on the governor’s office. She has been the subject of criticism during the past week for not doing more to sound the alarm. “I should have stayed in better contact with them. But then again, they never called me. It’s a two-way street,” she said.

Meanwhile, news that the governor’s staff had known about the documented abuses at the home drew the outrage from Republican lawmakers.

“I would hope the governor’s staff would have kept her better informed,” said House Majority Whip John McComish, R-Ahwatukee Foothills.

The communication breakdown within the governor’s office was not the first one for which the governor has taken heat. In December, she blamed Stephens for not telling her that two longtime political allies had started a nonprofit group to which she gave sole authority to handle millions of dollars worth of low-interest student loans.

After giving them that authority in 2004, Napolitano vetoed legislation that would have allowed other companies to compete for the loans.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: fraud; neglect

1 posted on 03/31/2007 6:17:11 AM PDT by radar101
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To: radar101
They also noted that patients were not supervised while smoking cigarettes.

Sheech!

2 posted on 03/31/2007 6:52:22 AM PDT by razorback-bert (Posted by Time's Man of the Year)
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To: razorback-bert

"They also noted that patients were not supervised while smoking cigarettes. "

Wonder if Feinstein's hubby's company ran this home.

America wants to know.


3 posted on 03/31/2007 7:25:05 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (The Clintons: A Malignant Malfeasance of the Most Morbid)
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To: EQAndyBuzz; All

It appears it's all done by our state of AZ... from a VA web page...

"This is a State owned and operated facility built to serve the long term needs of the veterans of Arizona."


4 posted on 03/31/2007 8:45:56 AM PDT by az_gila (AZ - need less democrats)
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To: razorback-bert

"...state health workers had completed a routine inspection of the home where they found patients were being ignored and in some cases forced to sit in soiled undergarments for hours"

When I see stuff like this it just makes my BLOOD BOIL....!!!

[USN 1967-70]

Please do whatever VOLUNTEER work you can muster at YOUR State VA Home, Hospitals, and/or Primary Care facilities.

Sometimes, something as "small" as donating books and/or magazines can be GREATLY appreciated.

Been there, done that on BOTH ends....!!!

[100% Service Connected Disabled]


5 posted on 03/31/2007 9:53:53 AM PDT by JB in Whitefish
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