GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - When State Rep. Peter MacGregor heard about the assault and death of an 84-year-old man at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, he was "definitely saddened." He has been pushing for changes at the facility.
The death of Andrew Ball Jr. is being treated as a homicide by police. The suspect is another Alzheimer's sufferer in his 80s. The injuries Ball received weren't severe, but he developed pneumonia as a result and died a few days later.
Before this incident, though, MacGregor, a Rockford Republican, had asked for a state audit of the facility. The results won't be known until next year. He's also proposed legislation to create an ombudsman position to give residents and their families an independent source to go with issues and concerns.
MacGregor told 24 Hour News 8 "there's no way of telling" if the changes he wants would have prevented Ball's death, "but I have told you that I know the care that they're getting, that medical care, is top notch. I have a lot of confidence in the doctors and nurses. There's other areas where I want to make sure that the quality of life, not just their medical life, but their quality of life is top notch."
Since taking over the reins of the appropriations subcommittee on Military and Veterans Affairs -- the committee that decides funding and provides oversight -- MacGregor has kept a close eye on the facility.
His call for an ombudsman is a bill still being considered.
"I think it's going to be discussed quite thoroughly because some of the situations that are going on," he said. "I believe there is a need and I feel a lot of legislators in Lansing feel there's a need there, and we need to vet (evaluate) it. You know there is going to be a win-win here and we need to make sure the members and the families of the members have someone to go to and that's what I'm focused on."
For now, it is unclear how long that conversation may take or what the outcome might be. One thing seems clear: with a growing, aging veteran population, facilites like the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans will be tested further.
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