Basic care for ND veterans in peril

Manda Patterson


On Sept. 8, 2018, the North Dakota Veterans Home in Lisbon, North Dakota will be celebrating 125 years, a wonderful achievement of which we can all be proud. The new facility opened in May of 2011 and is a beautiful, state of the art home. I strongly encourage anyone in the Lisbon area on Sept. 8 to stop by and visit.

But all is not well at the NDVH and if change doesn’t come soon, there will be no more celebrations. The capacity in the skilled unit is 52 and that has stayed relatively full since the new building opened. But the capacity in the two basic care units is 98 and that census is steadily declining. From Oct. 11, 2016 to July 10, 2018, a period of 21 months, the census dropped from 80 to 59, a decline of 21: one per month. If that rate were to continue, the basic care units would be empty in less than five years.

These statistics come from the governing board meeting minutes on the NDVH website. Interestingly enough, very little is said in the minutes about this drastic decline. It also appears that very little is being done to determine why there is such a decline, especially in such a wonderful, new facility. Declines like that do not happen without reason. The Administrative Committee on Veteran’s Affairs has oversight over the NDVH governing board and facility. If their meeting minutes are anything to go by, they also seem unconcerned about this dramatic decline.

Until sometime between the end of 2012 and 2014, the governing board went from meeting six times a year to four times a year. And yet, just this last year (based on their website) the governing board went six months without a meeting, from Aug. 3, 2017 to Feb. 21, 2018.

As a former employee of the NDVH, I understand fully the reason for the decline in census on the basic care units. Without new management, a new philosophy of care and a governing board serious about governing, the NDVH could very well become an empty monument of one of North Dakota’s greatest failures. I have done what I can to spread the word. It is time for others to step up to the plate so that our veterans who will someday need to live at the NDVH will have a healthy, positive and safe environment in which to live.


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