What’s behind Canandaigua VA’s one-star rating?

Combat veteran Robert Van Keuren of Canandaigua wants answers. And action.

He isn’t alone. With more than 60,000 veterans living in the Finger Lakes region, many are disturbed by the one-star rating recently revealed for nursing home care at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center. The Canandaigua Living Center that provides nursing home care at the VA on Fort Hill Avenue received the lowest ranking possible, with one out of five stars as of Dec. 31, 2017. An exclusive investigation by USA Today and Boston Globe showed Canandaigua to be one of 60 out of 133 homes the VA runs nationwide to receive the lowest score.

Eleven key indicators include rates of anti-psychotic prescription, pressure ulcers, pain and residents’ deterioration.

“It’s extremely discouraging, disheartening,” said Van Keuren, a former VA employee awarded in 2011 for his military service and achievements leading the upstate VA network’s Homeless Veterans Program. “I am ashamed we have a VA that we all fought so hard for, to get this negative rating,” he said.

Van Keuren and others want to know why this happened and what the VA is doing about it.

“Would you put your grandfather in a one-star nursing home?” he asked.

At the Canandaigua VA Thursday, questions about the rating went to two VA staff directly involved. Dr. Suzanne Gillespie, associate chief of staff specializing in geriatrics and extended care rehabilitation at the VA, explained what’s behind the one-star rating. She and Judy Schwingel, geriatrics and extended care manager for Bath and Canandaigua VA, talked about VA response to the scoring and ongoing efforts at improvement.

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