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Grand Rapids Home For Veterans To Lay Off 170
[September 15, 2011]

Grand Rapids Home For Veterans To Lay Off 170

Sep 15, 2011 (WXMI-TV - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- A tough day for more than a hundred state workers in Grand Rapids. They were told they won't have a job much longer at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. It's part of a move by Governor Rick Snyder's office to privatize care at the facility and save the state millions of dollars.

In all, 170 caregivers were called into a meeting and received pink slips, a move the governor's office says will save around $4 million.

The people laid off are caregivers who work directly with the veterans, doing things like moving them or helping with their activities. They'll be replaced by employees from the private staffing company J2S Healthcare Force. The changeover will happen at the end of September.

J2S Healthcare Force bid on the job. To be eligible, they had to fulfill certain requirements from the state when it comes to employee training and experience.

"In the beginning of the decade we were eight in per capita income, now we're 40 and unfortunately there's some tough decisions that need to be made by legislators and the governor's office. Our role is to implement those, as difficult as that may be, and make sure we maintain quality of care," said Senior Deputy Director for Veterans Affairs Jason Allen.

But the current caregivers and patients at the facility say the cost is too high. Many of the current employees have worked at the facility for decades.

"We're a lot like family, you get the same caregivers and I didn't realize it, but until I've been here all this time. You get a different caregiver they don't know what you need or what you want," said Norman Tope, a resident at the home.

"Regardless if it's 4 million, 5 million or 20 million, we're dealing with the veterans. People that took care of us, took care of our country and they deserve quality care. They don't deserve care from the lowest bidder," said Ronnie Skorupski,Vice President of AFSCME 261.

___ (c)2011 WXMI-TV (Grand Rapids, Mich.) Visit WXMI-TV (Grand Rapids, Mich.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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