The West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance said there will be additional investigations at the West Virginia Veterans Nursing Facility following a request by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
The Department of Veterans Assistance said investigations started Thursday, May 9, but it was not sure what office was handling the investigation. The Department of Veterans Assistance also said it would likely conduct its own investigation into the reported allegations.
West Virginia State Senate President Jeffery Kessler, D-Marshall, said legislators cannot turn a blind eye to the allegations made.
"I think you'll see the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well state, as well as legislative leadership also initiate. Whether through the veterans committee or an independent branch of an investigative branch, take a look at those allegations. To make sure the quality of care that is being provided at the state nursing home facility is adequate for our veterans," Kessler said.
Tomblin's office did not immediately return a request for comment.
UE Local 170, West Virginia Public Workers Union, has asked Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to conduct an investigation of the VA Nursing Home in Clarksburg following news coverage about staff shortages and alleged retaliation against a resident who spoke out about the quality of care, according to a news release from UE Local 170.
According to the news release, the call to investigate has come about after 12News' ongoing coverage of the nursing facility. The release cites a story that aired April 15, when Stephen Newlon, a nursing home resident and Vietnam Veteran, alleged that the facility was retaliating against him after speaking out with surveyors and to 12News about his concerns over the poor quality of care at the facility due to staff shortages.
The news release also cites a 12News story that aired April 16, in which a former employee said that the ongoing staff shortages "were affecting the quality of care that residents receive."
After 12News' coverage of the nursing home, a letter from UE Local 170 was sent to Governor Tomblin, requesting an investigation of the facility, according to the news release.
Senate President Jeffrey Kessler, D-Marshall, House Speaker Richard Thompson, D-Wayne, the chairmen of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and all Harrison County legislators also received a copy of the letter, according to the news release.
We will continue to provide updated information as this story develops.