Secret VA nursing home ratings hide poor quality care from the public

World War II veteran Rosario “Russ” Bonanno was facing worsening dementia when his family brought him last year to the Department of Veterans Affairs nursing home in Bedford, Massachusetts. He had been in assisted living, but after six years, some family members thought he needed more specialized care.

Within days after Bonanno arrived, his son Nick said the 93-year-old was “dazed, confused, disheveled” as staff began medicating him. He wasn’t the only resident who looked drugged. “Everyone looks like a zombie,” Nick said.

What Nick and his family didn’t know was that the Bedford facility ranked among the worst of 133 VA nursing homes across the country, in part for giving so many residents anti-psychotic drugs.

But the VA knew.

The agency has tracked detailed quality statistics on its nursing homes for years but has kept them from public view, depriving veterans of potentially crucial health care information. Nearly half of VA nursing homes nationwide – 60 – received the agency’slowest ranking of one out of five stars as of Dec. 31, 2017, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY and The Boston Globe.

– USA Today

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