We, the undersigned former employees of the Iowa Veterans Home, wish to express our deep concern about what is happening there. Since a new commandant took over in 2010, stress has increased and morale decreased in that venerable facility for veterans. The commandant and his deputy have had an extremely negative impact on the culture, climate and operation of the home. As a result, many dedicated, experienced long-term employees have left, been pushed out, or retired early, unable or unwilling to tolerate the conditions brought about by this new leadership team. This can only trickle down to its logical outcome - a severe negative impact on resident quality of life and care!
It's important to note here, even during these trying, highly stressful times under the current administration, the staff of the IVH deserves credit and praise. Their professional competency and caring hearts make it so that most of the residents are insulated during this hard time. Residents continue to receive care from warm and loving hands. This is to the staff's enduring credit and this is why we are speaking up on their behalf. Their loving care continues to be rendered in spite of the current leadership, not because of it. However, the staff does not have the power to change an administration whose policies and practices continue to restrict and narrow resident lives and create what many call a hostile work environment.
Twice in the past year, serious allegations have led to official Department of Administrative Services (DAS) investigations of the commandant's behavior and management style. Resident leadership has also cried out for help through various avenues. Exhaustive efforts to get the "system" to bring about change have failed. They say it is about resistance to a new management style, disgruntled employees, resistance to change, labor/management issues, reaction to stricter regulation enforcement, new and tighter rules, partisan politics, etc. It is not. It goes much deeper than that. In our opinion, this is a failed leadership team whose manner and style is repressive and controlling.
They should be replaced.
Ultimately, this is your home, Iowans. We implore you to stand up for the veterans who have stood up for all of us. Please contact Governor Branstad, your legislators, your local veterans' organizations and let them know you care about Iowa's veterans. Demand action! Thank you, Iowans.
This letter is written by Richard Schrad, the retired director of Resident & Family Services and Resident Advocate, who worked for 30 years at IVH along with Dennis Mack, who worked at IVH for 31 years as H.R. Director and Interim IVH Administrator, and Charlene McGrew, the retired Director of Nursing, who worked at IVH for 35 years.