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JEFFERSON CITY • Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration released details Thursday of what is now the fourth investigation this year into allegations of poor medical care at the St. Louis Veterans Home.

According to a statement from Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden, the agency has contracted with Harmony Healthcare International, which he said is on-scene at the state-operated nursing home in Bellefontaine Neighbors in north St. Louis County.

HHI is a healthcare consulting firm whose services include nursing home audits, compliance reviews and monitoring to ensure quality patient care, Juden said.

Terms of the contract were not immediately available Thursday. A report is due by the end of the year.

The administration has directed Missouri Veterans Commission staff, who operate the 300-bed facility, to cooperate with the investigation, including providing full access upon demand to the facility, records, employees and residents, Juden said.

“We take this matter extremely seriously because the health, safety and well-being of veterans in the state’s care are absolutely essential,” Juden said. “We are committed to ensuring the investigation is independent, thorough and completed expeditiously, because that’s what Missouri veterans and their families deserve.”

The latest probe comes after relatives, employees and volunteers at the home have raised questions about conditions at the home, including claims of neglect, missed medications and mistreatment of employees.

In response to the criticism, the Missouri Veterans Commission has investigated the home twice since July. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also has conducted a review, which found the facility in compliance with all federal standards.

Rolando Carter, the home’s chief administrator, previously said most complaints about patient care were "very minor in nature" and said steps have been taken to address concerns, including daily checkups on veterans by nurses and administrators and the addition of a guest service director.

Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, appoints members of the veterans commission.

Others calling for an independent investigation include Lt. Gov. Mike Parson and Missouri’s two U.S. senators, Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Roy Blunt.

In a joint letter to Greitens penned last month, the senators asked that such an investigation extend to all Missouri Veterans Homes “to ensure that our veterans are receiving the highest quality of care and respect from well-trained, compassionate leaders and staff.”

Kurt Erickson is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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