Pioneer Homes: Give Vets Their Medicine

The Pioneer Homes administrators and nurses have found a way to let veterans who reside at the state-owned assisted living facilities receive the free medicine to which they have a right.  The problem first arose in April when it was discovered that Veterans were having to pay for prescription medicine from the Pioneer Homes –although they were entitled to that medicine at no charge from the federal government.  The issue was over the Homes’ dosing requirement that did not allow nurses to use medicine sent to them in bulk.  The state requirement was based on safety issues.

The state has now re-written its safety protocols,  setting requirements for nurses to follow in administering the prescriptions.   Pioneer Homes Director David Cote (KOH-tee) says nurses and direct care staff assisted in putting the policy together.

The policy and procedure, which basically is step-by-step instructions of what we do from how do we get medications ordered to what do we do when we get medications into the home, to storing them, to administering them to disposing of them.  So we went through all aspects of dealing with Veterans’ Administration medications and basically formalized a policy so all nurses in all of the homes – should this spread to other homes – would know how this should be handled.  And to be doing it safely.

Cote says there is no additional expense for handling the medication.   Nurses, not certified aides, will administer it because of their higher degree of medical experience.  He says they are health care professionals who are good at their profession.

For its part, the V-A agreed to communicate better its instructions and information on the medicines.

We wanted to work with the VA to make sure that veteran residents could use their VA benefits and to use them, in this case, obtain medications and have it administered in the safest way possible.  So I think we tightened up the process and in the end,  the veterans get to use their benefits.

Anchorage Senator Bill Wielechowski was one of those legislators who originally brought the problem forward.  He says it’s a good solution that gives the residents back the services they have had in place before.

You had a big clash between the state bureaucracy and the federal bureaucracy,  and its two pretty immovable objects.  And fortunately, on the state level, we were able to be a bit more nimble and simply go back to the system we  had in place and get our bureaucracy more in line with the what the feds are doing.  It’s a good solution.

Cote says those veterans who have been paying for their VA-medication will be held harmless.  He says they will receive a full refund for the medical charges they have incurred.


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