A USA Today report is giving scathing reviews to the nation's VA nursing homes, including in Tampa, prompting responses from local facilities.

The report found several incidents that took place at Tampa Bay area facilities, from bed sores and falls to catheters left in bladders and patients left in serious pain.

According to the rankings by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Haley's Cove at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa received one star out of five, while Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Community Living Center in St. Petersburg received two stars.

Dangel said VA facilities face more challenges than private facilities which make it more difficult for them to get high ratings in surveys.

"VA nursing homes serve a much higher proportion of residents with conditions such as prostate obstruction, spinal cord injury, mental illness, homelessness, PTSD, combat injury, terminal illness, and other conditions rarely seen in private nursing homes," he said.

"Also, private sector nursing homes admit patients selectively, whereas – unlike the private sector – VA will not refuse service to any eligible Veteran, no matter how challenging the veteran’s conditions are to treat. In other words, VA nursing homes often house residents with more complex medical needs that private sector facilities will not accept, which makes achieving good quality ratings more challenging."

Dangel said Bay Pines is working to improve care by improving documentation, making more frequent rounds and retraining personnel. Also, Hale has improved all its care plans and revised how restraints are used to prevent falls.

Dangel sought to reassure veterans who receive their care at the facilities.

"The Tampa and Bay Pines VA CLCs deliver high-quality nursing home care. That’s why hundreds of Veterans trust us with their care year after year."

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