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Low pay, failed drug tests lead to shortage of healthcare workers for Oklahoma soldiers
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Low pay, failed drug tests lead to shortage of healthcare workers for Oklahoma soldiers

Low pay, failed drug tests lead to shortage of healthcare workers for Oklahoma soldiers
Photo Credit: Courtesy: Oklahoma National Guard
Oklahoma soldiers watch documentary to help themselves and their loved ones

Low pay, failed drug tests lead to shortage of healthcare workers for Oklahoma soldiers

With so many soldiers back home, taking care of their health needs is a big issue.

Recent reports accuse the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs of abuse and neglect.

Thursday a panel of lawmakers called the administrators from every V.A. across the state to the capitol.

The administrators say the main issue is filling positions with good qualified people.

Claremore Administrator Glenda Davenport says, "Some of them have had positive drug tests with our drug testing program. A lot of it is just poor performance of their jobs."

Ardmore Administrator Regeana McCracken says the Certified Nursing Assistant's only make $11 per hour.

McCracken tells lawmakers, "They may work two weeks, enough to get that first paycheck and then they just quit coming to work."

Many of the workers are right out of high school.

McCracken says, "We do offer good state benefits, but the younger generation does not look at retirement and health care like most of us."

All seven locations have open positions and there is money to hire workers.

She said they currently have the funds to fill nine vacancies but cannot find applicants for those positions.

Davenport says, "In the first quarter of this year, we hired 57 employees. We only retained about 15 of those employees."

McCracken reports that they can't fill and keep medical workers and the veteran’s mental health problems are more severe.

"In the first quarter of this year, we hired 57 employees. We only retained about 15 of those employees."

On August 6, Governor Mary Fallin requested an audit of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.

In May, Governor Fallin replaced eight of the nine members of the War Veterans Commission, which oversees the ODVA.

She says “Even one instance of abuse or neglect at our veteran’s facilities is unacceptable and horrifying. The new members of the commission are working diligently to protect our veterans and to improve the quality of services they receive from the state.”

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