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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2013

CONTACT
Kathie Osterman, Communications & Legislative Services, 402-471-9313, kathie.osterman@nebraska.gov 

DHHS Sets Record Straight on Veterans' Home Allegation

Lincoln - The Department of Health and Human Services today responded to inaccuracies in a recent news report about the administrator of the Grand Island Veterans Home.

“We usually do not respond to personnel-related issues because of confidentiality,” said Kerry Winterer, CEO of the Department of Health and Human Services.  “However, in this case, inaccurate information has been reported and it’s our responsibility to set the record straight.”

Winterer said a news report this week suggested that allegations of sexual harassment are currently being made regarding Alex Willford, the administrator of the Grand Island Veterans’ Home.  “That is false and misleading,” he said.

Winterer said DHHS received a complaint alleging possible sexual harassment in 2009, a claim made by a person who was not a party to the alleged harassment.  Winterer said DHHS human resources staff completed internal investigations. One of the findings was that the three people identified as the targets of the alleged harassment were not aware that a complaint had been lodged.  Human Resources staff in Lincoln directed the investigation and, based on interviews held with each person, determined that the complaint of sexual harassment was not supported.  Winterer said that now, four years later, two of the three people continue to work at the Veterans Home.

Winterer also clarified that no allegation of sexual harassment at the Grand Island Veterans Home has been filed with the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission, as recently reported.  He confirmed that the person who brought the issue to DHHS did file a complaint with the NEOC, based in part on retaliation for making the original allegation to DHHS.  In May, 2012, the NEOC voted unanimously to find “no reasonable cause” on the case and it was dismissed.

“It is unfortunate that old and unfounded accusations are being made in Grand Island,” Winterer said.  “We have a responsibility for the care and concern of the members of the Veterans’ Home and to our employees.  In fact, today the Grand Island Veterans’ Home is celebrating their recent perfect federal survey, which attests to the impressive work of the employees and leadership of the management team.”

 

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