Spotlight on Business
by Ev Chase
Nevada State Veterans Home
Having a Memorial Day to honor the men and woman who served in our country's military who fought and died in defense of our country is certainly honorable, but we must not forget the business of caring for those veterans who are still with us and need our attention. Tragically the care given, even in a state operated Veteran's home, is a business and is often measured in dollars and cents, but Administrator Gary Bermeosolo, doesn't feel that way.
Bermeosolo, who took the helm of the Nevada State Veterans Home in April of 2003, after having signed on as a consultant in January of 2003, has been around for all but the construction and occupancy of the first wing.
"At the time we had only one wing open and it was not filled," says the enthusiastic Administrator and veteran."
"We had a lot of good people here, but we didn't have a lot of people who had the expertise in long term care. Part of the home's struggles in the earlier days was actually getting people on board who knew long term care systems so they could teach them."
Fortunately, Bermeosolo was able to fill some key positions which he could fill with people who could take a leadership role and train the newer staff in their duties rather quickly. And with the anticipation of having the home filled to capicaty by the end of the year, staffing will be a continuous challenge.
"Staffing is a challenge," Gary says. "Trying to hire good quality nurses in this area (southern Nevada) is a major challenge because southern Nevada and southern California have the highest acute shortage of nursing staff in the west. To quote Joe Hardy (Doctor Joe Hardy State Senator) who often quotes the figures, our number of nurses per one hundred thousand residents is very low. Consequently, with new hospitals opening we have all this competition for the same people."
What this means, when Gary hires nurses he has to bring them in from somewhere else. Living in Boulder City is an advantage, but if one has to drive to Boulder City and back and at the current cost of gasoline from the valley it makes recruiting more difficult.
"Boulder City is a positive of course and it's our number one recruiting area. You'll note, I am advertising in local magazines and newspapers on a continuous basis because I really prefer to hire from Boulder City. We are a part of Boulder City."
Like most businesses who are hiring professionals in any field, it really boils down to who pays the most and has the best benefits.
"That's really our draw," says Bermeosolo, "the State's fringe benefit package."
The residents, however, are looking for benefits of a different kind, but they have to qualify too.
"Our rule is you must be a Nevada resident or have joined the service in Nevada. Of course you could move here and become a resident and then apply. Because we accept money from the VA we can't have a duration of residency requirement.
"We are allowed to take spouses which, I think, a lot of people overlook. Up to 25% of our beds could be spouses of veterans. We take Gold Star parents, parents who have lost all their children during wartime."
According to Gary, there are one hundred and nineteen Veterans homes in 47 states and territories and only three states that don't have veteran's homes. The three remaining states, Delaware, Hawaii, and Alaska, are all involved now in building homes.
Although the population of the local veterans home is in the upper age groups, that will be changing because of current conditions around the world.
"We are making more veterans now and they're coming back without limbs," says Bermeosolo. "The veterans we are getting now are living through the explosions because they have body armor and the parts unprotected are the limbs."
As a veteran himself, Gary is sensitive to the situations in which he is involved. He quotes Senator Larry Craig of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. "We shouldn't be cutting Veterans benefits with the smell of gun smoke in the air."
"I have a real philosophical difficulty with that."