The Norman Transcript

Letters

May 11, 2014

Veteran homes staff deserve appreciation

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

A constant topic of discussion at the Norman Veterans Center’s monthly residents council meetings is staffing shortages and its impact on the quality of care given to the vets here. In an attempt to get information on why these shortages continue, I invited center administrator Terry Wilkerson to our April council meeting. He is the sixth Norman Veterans Center administrator in nine years. He’s been here for a handful of months and I was hopeful he would give the residents his plan to remedy this big problem. So far we have no new plan.

When asked about staffing shortages and why employees were quitting, Wilkerson announced that he didn’t know. Further, he said the reasons couldn’t be salaries because they were competitive and it had to be something else.

Last year, the state auditor conducted a performance audit of three vet homes, which included the Norman facility. The audit revealed that vet homes staff earned only 40 percent of what is paid for similar positions in states surrounding Oklahoma. Wilkerson was the administrator at the Lawton veterans home when the auditor’s report went public. Wilkerson has access to this audit.

In the weeks after the council meeting, staffing problems have worsened, when administration implemented new overtime rules, in which they will not pay overtime for replacements for staff that can’t make their shift and call in; refusal to pay overtime for staff who have to wait 20 or 30 minutes at the end of their shift for the next shift’s personnel assignments; and no overtime pay if an employee clocks out late even though there might be extenuating circumstances like veteran-related emergencies. All of these regulations have caused dissension among the staff and further shortages.

Staff shortages are occurring with increasing frequency. Easter weekend, we experienced staffing problems because of refusal to pay overtime for replacements for staff who called in. On overnight shifts, some wards have only one aide for 25 beds. Residents are at risk if there is a fire or a weather-related emergency. In a recent fire drill, it took so long to evacuate residents on one ward that the person conducting the drill declared 25 residents dead.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Letters
  • Help better than commentary

    For the last seven years, I have helped run Hands Helping Paws, an animal welfare and rescue group that fosters Norman’s abandoned animals and advocates for spay and neuter initiatives to reduce our community’s problems with stray and ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Stick to the sports

    Editor, The Transcript: Why must we, especially us nice conservatives, be subjected to political commentary in a sports column? I hear/view Fox News routinely and find their coverage quite acceptable. I also hear/view CNN and MSNBC. I ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Corporation Commission should should evaluate quakes, fracturing

    Editor, The Transcript: Is your house at risk of being damaged in an earthquake because of fracking? Maybe. We’ve seen more earthquakes and tremors in Oklahoma seven months into 2014 than in the two previous years combined. At the same ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Norman can stop fracking before it escalates

    Editor, The Transcript: There are 163 fracked wells within Norman city limits. With growing attention to health and safety concerns, the city is considering changes to the existing oil and gas ordinance....

    July 27, 2014

  • We should be offended by things that matter

    Editor, The Transcript: I’m offended. Why you say? I live in the USA, in Norman — a great town. What could possibly offend me? I’ll tell you. It’s people that are offended by the most meaningless things (what to call an evergreen tree in ...

    July 27, 2014

  • James Garner will be missed

    Editor, The Transcript: Norman native son James Garner was a fine actor on stage, screen and television. I enjoyed the “Maverick” TV series and, in particular, the 1959 episode “The Strange Journey of Jenny Hill” in which the very popular ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Change some lines

    Editor, The Transcript: Looking at how our elected Republican friends are reacting to the refugee children crossing the border and now being housed in Lawton, I have a suggestion. Let’s edit the Christian Bible in several places to reflect ...

    July 21, 2014

  • New health care system demonized

    To the Editor: In October 2013, soon after we were asked to take over management responsibilities at our family business, we were visited by the company’s health insurance agent. She explained that a decision needed to be made regarding ...

    July 21, 2014

  • The longer the wait, the higher the cost

    Editor, The Transcript: Thanks for the great article of July 3 on the Norman chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby group that recently went to D.C. as citizen lobbyists, working to get a revenue-neutral carbon pollution fee, refunded in ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Natural beauty makes way for parking

    Editor, The Transcript: In support and response to an editorial in The Transcript on June 28 by Pam McIntosh, I am writing this article. In the early ‘70s, many years ago, I lived in what was known as the Sooner Mobile Home Park on South ...

    July 20, 2014