This week has been an interesting one and certainly a busy one.


     This week has been an interesting one and certainly a busy one. As usual, I started working on something and the gremlins in my computer ate it so I had to start all over. Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time reading the Veterans Affairs (VA) regulations concerning nursing homes. When I first started my Administrator career a few years ago, I was told that when it comes to the state and the federal regulations, you always go by the one that is the most stringent. Now a few years down the road, I have another set of rules to learn called VA regulations.
     The nursing home aspect of the VA regulations is not all that different from state and non-VA federal regulations. A good example is how the state and VA regulations treat staffing requirements. The VA requires more direct care hours per patient day versus the federal and state regulations. In general terms, we have more staff-to-resident ratio under the VA regulations.
     As I read VA regulations, I’m astounded by a new term that is out here at the Fort. Perhaps I shouldn’t say “new” because the term is actually very old. The term domiciliary or “doms” for short is used out here. When I first started people would throw around the short word and I was like, "Oh, we have dorms out here." I found that intriguing. However, I was quite wrong.
     The domiciliary is actually called the Domiciliary Care Program and is the VA’s oldest health care program. This program was established through legislation in the late 1860s. The purpose of the domiciliary program was to provide a home for disabled volunteer soldiers of the Civil War. Additionally, domiciliary care was initially established to provide services to economically-disadvantaged veterans, and the program remains committed to serving that group. Furthermore, the domiciliary has evolved from a “Soldiers’ Home” to become an active clinical rehabilitation and treatment program for male and female veterans and dependants. So in summary, I have more regulations to read — the domiciliary regulations.
     As some of you may already know, the Center for Medicare Services started a new program a few years ago called “the nursing home compare.” If you go to their website, you will find that the Kansas Soldiers' Home is rated as a “five star” facility, which is as good as it gets for nursing homes. The biggest portion of this rating comes from the health inspection scores received by a nursing home. Due to the fact that the Soldiers' Home is regulated also by the VA, we also have a VA survey inspection every year. Our VA survey will be in November of this year. Rumor has it that the residents and families here are very satisfied with the care provided, so we look forward to another great survey in both the VA side and the state side.
     This week at the Fort, we hosted the 2011 Santa Fe Trail Symposium reception and dinner. An 1860s ambulance was on display, and community members had an opportunity to take an inside tour of the historic Custer House. The Custer House was once the post headquarters and briefly the residence of George A. Custer, along with other noted military men of that time period.
     As always, The Kansas Soldiers’ Home mission is to enhance the overall well-being of honorably discharged veterans and their dependents in an environment that supports the individuals’ physiological, sociological and psychological needs.