FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — University of Arkansas for Medical Science students will provide free treatment to residents in the state’s only veterans home as part of an effort to reduce the facility’s expenses, officials said.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe made the announcement Wednesday at the Fayetteville Veterans Home, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs oversees the northwest Arkansas facility and hosted the event to announce the new affiliation with the medical school.
“If you compare where we were to where we are, it accentuates the progress that has been made here,” Beebe said. “This is an atmosphere and an operation that appears to be on the way to being sustainable.”
The Fayetteville facility, funded through Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, can house 108 residents. It has been the state’s only veterans home since 2012, when the Little Rock Veterans Home closed. A site for a new state veterans home has been selected in North Little Rock.
The home’s affiliation with the medical school’s northwest Arkansas branch is part of an overhaul that kicked off after the facility’s last administrator was fired in November when a resident left without anyone noticing.
During the previous administrator’s tenure, the Fayetteville Veterans Home received four citations by Arkansas officials for allegations of neglect, failure to file reports and staff members providing false reports. The home has also faced financial issues.
Kriss Schaffer, the home’s current administrator, said eight students began their residencies at the Fayetteville home three weeks ago. He was hired in January.
“When I first started, you could cut the tension with a knife,” he said. “We had a tarnished reputation. We’ve now improved communication, and we’re all working better together.”
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Northwest Vice Chancellor Peter Kohler said the school is currently a landlord to the veterans home. Kohler said the partnership will be beneficial for both parties.