New Details: Assault investigation at local vets home

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According to a Department of Health report, the Hollidaysburg Veterans’ Home was cited for failing “to maintain clinical records, that were complete and accurately documented for one of 14 residents” after a resident was sexually assaulted by another resident. 

On Friday, WTAJ News learned from the Department of Health that the home is on a provisional license, requiring inspection twice a year rather than once.

We also spoke with Allegheny Township Police and the Blair County District Attorney’s Office and they confirmed that there is an investigation into the sexual assault that allegedly took place back in August.

Assistant District Attorney Jackie Bernard says that investigation involves the incident between the two residents and not the veteran’s home as a whole.
The report from the Department of Health from last September states that in regards to the assault the home failed to provide enough detail to employees on how to handle this situation and that it “seriously compromised a resident’s safety.” A follow-up report from October says the home made all of the necessary corrections.
On Friday, WTAJ News again tried to question officials at the Hollidaysburg Veterans Home to get more answers. We were referred to the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs office which provided the following statement:

“The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) provides quality care for our aging and disabled veterans by ensuring that they and their spouses receive long-term care services in a safe, secure and caring environment. 

In August 2016, Hollidaysburg Veterans’ Home (HVH) staff immediately reported an alleged incident of resident­-on-resident abuse to local law enforcement authorities in accordance with state and federal law. HVH subsequently reported the alleged incident to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH).

An internal investigation revealed breaches of DMVA HIPPA policy involving a number of HVH employees. These violations were reported to the DOH and the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

DMVA has disciplined the responsible employees and continues to enact tighter administrative measures and provide staff education concerning these issues.

DMVA is routinely and vigorously inspected by various Commonwealth regulatory agencies including DOH, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Labor & Industry, as well as the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.”

WTAJ was contacted by a former employee of the home who elected to remain anonymous. The former employee claims that after the assault was discovered by other staff that she was told it was ordered to, “clean her (the resident) up before she was even allowed to be removed to go to the emergency room or being taken care of.” She continued, “The gentleman, they cut his finger nails.”

WTAJ has also been contacted by the alleged victim’s family who has also confirmed the assault.

The former employee also alleged that when employees would come forward with issues, they would not be taken care of. They explained, “Everything at that facility is hide it, and sweep it under the carpet. Don’t discuss it. If you discuss it, you’re fired. Discuss it, you’re suspended. Who are you supposed to go to for help?”

When it came to employees speaking out, the former employee alleged that they would be too afraid to say anything. They said, “If they pull you in and tell you do not discuss it again, they mean, do not discuss it again. that is the last warning that they give you. Your first warning is your last warning.”

WTAJ wants to emphasize that the claims made by the former employee are allegations and that no one at this point has been charged with a crime. The family member of the alleged victim says Allegheny Township police are investigating.

As WTAJ reported Tuesday night, the union for the employees won’t talk much about a criminal investigation at the veterans’ home.

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