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VA Says Facility Falls Short

Veterans Face Deadline to Relocate From Nursing Home

  • Sharon Bowen works on her computer in her room at Hanover Terrace in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 17, 2014. Bowen moved to Hanover Terrace nine years ago and now may have to move, due to an expiring contract between the facility and the VA. "This is my only corner of the room, and now I might be losing it," Bowen said. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Sharon Bowen works on her computer in her room at Hanover Terrace in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 17, 2014. Bowen moved to Hanover Terrace nine years ago and now may have to move, due to an expiring contract between the facility and the VA. "This is my only corner of the room, and now I might be losing it," Bowen said.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sharon Bowen sits in her room she has lived in for three years at Hanover Terrace in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 17, 2014. Bowen, a veteran who has lived at Hanover Terrace for nine years, may have to move from the facility by Febuary 28th, as the contract between the VA and the facility has lapsed. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Sharon Bowen sits in her room she has lived in for three years at Hanover Terrace in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 17, 2014. Bowen, a veteran who has lived at Hanover Terrace for nine years, may have to move from the facility by Febuary 28th, as the contract between the VA and the facility has lapsed.
    Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sharon Bowen works on her computer in her room at Hanover Terrace in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 17, 2014. Bowen moved to Hanover Terrace nine years ago and now may have to move, due to an expiring contract between the facility and the VA. "This is my only corner of the room, and now I might be losing it," Bowen said. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • Sharon Bowen sits in her room she has lived in for three years at Hanover Terrace in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 17, 2014. Bowen, a veteran who has lived at Hanover Terrace for nine years, may have to move from the facility by Febuary 28th, as the contract between the VA and the facility has lapsed. <br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

Hanover — Six disabled veterans living at Hanover Terrace have a little more than a month to find someplace else to live after the Department of Veterans Affairs decided to void its contract with the nursing home, saying that it had fallen below the VA’s standards of care.

The VA pays community nursing homes to care for veterans, but only facilities that are enrolled in the agency’s contract program can participate.

The Hanover Terrace residents have until Feb. 28, the date the VA contract ends, to relocate.

The Route 10 nursing home was one year into its most recent five-year contract, but VA officials chose to end the agreement because they believed the nursing home was not up to its standards, said Deborah Amdur, director of the VA Medical Center in White River Junction. The VA has paid for veterans to live at Hanover Terrace for several years, but Amdur was unsure of how long.

In an interview Friday, Amdur did not say which specific standards Hanover Terrace failed to meet, but she said generally the VA considers staffing, the environment of care, cleanliness, food and nutrition services, documentation and life safety code issues, among other criteria.

The VA will assist the six veterans and their families with relocation.

“If we felt there was immediate danger of a veteran coming to harm, we would take them out immediately. We would bring them to the medical center and then do placement from here,” Amdur said. “That’s not this situation. However, when a facility is not meeting our basic standards, we do take action.”

Hanover Terrace issued a statement Friday saying that it regretted the situation.

“This was a decision made by the VA and is based on the criteria they set for nursing homes to participate in their plan,” the statement said. “The residents who have the VA insurance have been notified of the change and have the option to stay if they wish.

“We regret that we were unable to come to a mutually acceptable agreement with the VA that would allow these residents to continue receiving VA benefits while staying at Hanover Terrace.”

The news alarmed Sharon Bowen, a 68-year-old Vietnam-era veteran, when a social worker told her two weeks ago.

Bowen moved to Hanover Terrace in 2005. In the years since, she has established a life there, making friends and serving as a minister to other residents. The thought of moving to a different facility is difficult, she said.

“I can’t imagine starting all over again where I don’t know anybody,” Bowen said.

Bowen served in the Marine Corps in 1963-64, during which time she developed post-traumatic stress disorder.

She has kidney problems and has been on dialysis since 2002. She said she also suffers from nerve damage that makes it painful for her to walk even short distances.

Wherever she goes, Bowen must be near a dialysis center. She is not eager to move from the Upper Valley. Two of her adult children live here and neither own a car to drive far distances to see her.

Bowen also considers her friends and caregivers at Hanover Terrace to be kin.

“This is like my family,” she said. “They’re ripping me apart from my family.”

The other veterans at Hanover Terrace have deteriorating mental conditions and struggle to make decisions on their own, Bowen said. She worried about what this would mean for them.

Bowen said her life has transformed during her time at Hanover Terrace. She studied to be a minister there and was ordained in 2007.

She has since spent time ministering to the sick and participating in a Bible study.

In a 2009 interview with the Valley News, Bowen said she had found her life’s direction at Hanover Terrace.

Now, that life is about to take another turn.

“I’ve always done for others,” Bowen said Friday. “Now I’m in a situation where I don’t know what to do for myself.”

Chris Fleisher can be reached at 603-727-3229 or cfleisher@vnews.com.