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New report finds Wisconsin veterans home in Union Grove as one of the most troubled in the country

One person pushing another person in a wheelchair.
Mike Desisti
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Veteran Gordon Voss, 91, salutes as volunteer Ellen Jante pushes him at the veterans home in Union Grove in May 2022. Voss said there are numerous problems with care, including not being able to get enough water, especially at night. "I am spitting cotton balls" by morning, he said.

A state-run veterans home in Union Grove is Wisconsin’s most troubled veterans assisted living facility. According to a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinelinvestigation, the Union Grove facility has received over 50 citations and racked up over $200,000 in fines. As a result, veterans living under their care are frustrated, and their families are scared about what may happen to their loved ones.

Daphne Chen is a data and investigative reporter, and John Diedrich is an investigative reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"Issues include infection control, abuse, medication mistakes, patients just not getting enough water and food, things of that nature. These are found and documented by state inspectors from the Department of Health Services and confirmed by federal authorities," says Diedrich.

Diedrich says these violations far outrun the other facilities in Wisconsin and place Union Grove among the most troubled and worse facilities by these measures across the country.

It was important to measure the levels of abuse holistically, adds Chen. So the team of reporters not only looked at the raw number of citations and how many citations they got for each inspection. Diedrich and Chen compared it to the average in the state.

Diedrich also notes that the violations and staff shortages at the Union Grove facility predated COVID-19, but the pandemic only exacerbated those issues. Families also lost access to their relatives at the nursing home, making it harder to advocate for them.

Diedrich adds that the state's two most powerful Democrats and Republicans have weighed in on these issues too. In a follow-up, Journal Sentinel article, Diedrich maps out the bipartisan reaction and effort.

Ultimately, he says the power now lies with Gov. Tony Evers administration to fix this. So far, the governor has promised to work closely with the nursing home to find solutions to remedy the matter.

"We continue to watch this issue closely. We'll continue to report on the efforts by the reverse administration and federal government to address these deficiencies," says Diedrich.

Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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