Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: February 2, 2017
Sen. Simpson says veterans death further
evidence that Talihina Center must be relocated
Simpson said another veteran’s death at the Oklahoma Veterans
Center in Talihina on Tuesday is evidence that the center must be
relocated as soon as possible. In January, he filed Senate Bill
544 directing and authorizing the Oklahoma Department of Veterans
Affairs (ODVA) to relocate the facility to another location that
meets the requirements of the United States Department of Veterans
Affairs as a State Veterans' Home.
“I am absolutely sick to hear about the death of fellow veteran
Leonard Smith and my thoughts and prayers are with his family. I
have been offered speculation on the cause and manner of death but
the investigation is underway and a report is not yet available,”
said Simpson, R-Ardmore. “Unfortunately, another veteran died
just four months ago at this center because of neglect by staff,
which is why I filed emergency legislation last month to relocate
the facility. Something must be done before another life is senselessly
Simpson noted there are many problems with the facility including
the age of the nearly 100 year old building, which does not adequately
meet the needs of the patients and is very expensive to maintain.
The center also does not have access to good water. However, he
explained that staffing is the biggest issue.
“Because of its remote location and a limited labor pool,
ODVA has a difficult time adequately staffing the facility. The
staffing shortage jeopardizes the safety and welfare of all residents,”
said Simpson. “As the chairman of the Senate Committee on
Veterans Affairs and Military Affairs my overwhelming priority is
what is in the best interests of our veterans. We must be able to
provide top notch facilities and properly staff those facilities
so our veterans get the care they need and deserve.”
Simpson said there are currently nearly 30 resident care positions
that cannot be filled. He has also received reports of nepotism
or family members working for family members, which is in direct
violation of state statute.
Being an emergency measure, SB 544 would become law upon passage
by the legislature and approval by the governor. The legislative
session convenes on Monday.
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