Letter: Silent no more — Veterans’ home leaders speak out

Posted 2/20/20

While the decision for General Rick Baccus to retire from the Rhode Island Veterans Home may have been his choice, it is clearly our loss, and we can be silent no more. It is always easy to …

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Letter: Silent no more — Veterans’ home leaders speak out

Posted

While the decision for General Rick Baccus to retire from the Rhode Island Veterans Home may have been his choice, it is clearly our loss, and we can be silent no more. It is always easy to place blame where it truly does not belong, and most often it is placed where we see that praise is scarce.

For those of us who have worked directly under General Baccus for the past 11 years, his resignation is devastating — not only for our honored veterans, but for the administrative staff as well — and we would like to expound upon this with him publicly. 

Here is our public letter of support and gratitude to you, General Baccus. Your unwavering dedication to the R.I. Veterans’ Home includes, but is not limited to, the following: 

Your presence at the R.I. Veterans’ Home seven days a week, during holidays, winter storms and hurricanes, to ensure that our veterans and staff were safe, never went unnoticed. 

Your presence at community and veterans’ organization meetings and fundraisers at the R.I. Veterans’ Home, which benefitted our veterans, and your selfless presence during Christian mass every Sunday for our veterans also did not go unnoticed. 

You always ensured a proper military burial for veterans who had no family, friends, or supportive resources.

You were our calm in the storm: Your military training and professional demeanor brought stability, integrity and fairness to policy changes and everyday decisions that may have been deemed unpopular and difficult by some, but were necessary. Instilling that same sense of calm when staff was overwhelmed during difficult times meant so much to us. 

Your ethical standards guided our daily operations, ensuring a high level of care for our veterans, their families, and commumity members. 

Overseeing the incredible design and construction of our new home and ensuring a seamless and safe transition for our 194 residents in six short days; and shortly thereafer, completing a deficient-free federal survey which resulted in the R.I. Veterans’ Home receiving several million dollars in federal reimbursement. In fact, under your leadership and administration, the R.I. Veterans’ Home has had numerous, deficient-free, federal and state inspections. 

The partnership between the Alliance for Long Term Care and the R.I. Veterans’ Home has never been stronger. This ensures that residents’ rights are adhered to, respected and valued. As the administrator of 

the R.I. Veterans’ Home, you exemplified the mission of Person-Centered Care. One example was allowing veterans to keep their vehicles (if medically allowed), thereby supporting their sense of independence upon entering long-term care. 

These accomplishments are hardly what we would call “disappointing” or “ineffective.” 

Please know that your staff is comprised of dedicated workers who possess integrity and adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards. We will welcome and assist whomever is chosen to oversee this amazing facility that you paved the way for.

We could not allow you to leave without letting you know exactly what you have meant to your administrative staff. It has been an honor and privilege to work under your leadership these past 11 years. 

We thank you for YOUR service, General Baccus. Best of luck in your future endeavors. 

Frank Amalfitano
William Camara
Lynn Lavallee
Jennifer Strollo
Diane Lucier
Diane Kemmy
Nancy Pellegrino
Toni Acampora
Patricia Rodriguez
Margaret Hugo
Gail McElroy

The above are members of the administrative staff at the Rhode Island Veterans’ Home.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.