CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Veterans Nursing Facility in Clarksburg fell more than $5 million behind on invoices over a period of years.

The Governor’s Office publicly revealed the backlog of debt dating back to 2013.

The state Department of Veterans Assistance became aware of the problems this past August.

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Dennis Davis

Veterans Assistance Secretary Dennis Davis requested an immediate audit, leading to the discovery of $5 million in unpaid invoices, according to state Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy.

“They were constantly getting more bills than they had revenue so they were using today’s revenue to pay past bills,” Hardy said Wednesday on MetroNews “Talkline.” “Over time that number finally caught ’em.”

Once the problem was discovered, a team was assembled right away to deal with it.

The state Auditor’s agency oversight program worked to identify the financial problems at Veterans Assistance.

“The Governor’s Office has been pro-active in working with our office to identify the problems and solutions,” said Jeff Waybright, chief of staff for the state Auditor.

“This is an example of how government should work together to find solutions.”

On-site visits were made in October to the Veterans Nursing Facility for employee interviews and to review records.

“Arrangements were made to pay crucial vendors to ensure the 110 veterans in the Home are protected and cared for in the most efficient manner,” Gov. Jim Justice stated.

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State Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy

Hardy said the administration has allowed Veterans Assistance to use an advance in the current budget year to pay those vendors.

New leadership was appointed at the Veterans Nursing Facility in early December.

A new chief financial officer was appointed last week at the Department of Veterans Assistance, according to the Governor’s Office, Hardy said.

“We saw that there was a clear-cut need to change some of the leadership at the nursing home and that has been done,” he said. “Now we’re evaluating the entire cost model on how we can make it at least break-even every month and not compromise the quality of care and that will be done.”

Hardy said getting behind by more than $5 million was “a combination of a lot of events and frankly, not reacting to the events because they were trying very hard to keep up with the level of care.”

The overall nursing shortage has hurt the facility. Hardy said a lot of money has been spent on contract nurses. He said the nursing home’s affiliation with the Clarksburg VA Hospital has also been expensive. The facility provides meals for the home.

Hardy said one way to improve the facility’s finances is to make it qualified for Medicaid payments.

The Justice administration will continue to work on the issue, according to Hardy.

“Nobody ever compromised the level of care. Ever. But again, the hill got steeper and steeper,” he said.

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