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Former Vets Home admin returns to NDVS after previous $750,000 Legionnaires’ settlement

As a very local newspaper, the Boulder City Review does not usually cover the machinations of government at the state level. But in this case, there are multiple BC connections.

It’s been a tumultuous week at the Nevada Department of Veterans Services, the agency which oversees both the Southern Nevada Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery and the Nevada State Veterans’ Home, both located in Boulder City.

The headline news as that Fred Wagar, the director of NDVS, appears to have been fired by Gov. Joe Lombardo. While inquiries to the governor’s office about Wagar’s status and details about his separation had not been replied to by press time, reporting by other newspapers, including the Reno Gazette-Journal, indicates that he was dismissed. Lombardo’s outgoing chief of staff, Ben Kieckhefer, is reported to have said that Wagar’s removal was a “personnel decision.”

The news came out only via an email sent to NDVS employees by NDVS Communications Director Terri Hendry. The email reads: “Dear Team - Following a change in leadership this afternoon, Governor Lombardo has now designated Lisa Maciel as Acting Director of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services. A permanent director will be announced in the coming weeks.”

Maciel was named as deputy director of benefits less than three months ago, a position which put her in charge of the veterans’ cemetery. Her appointment as interim director took effect on Friday of last week.

Meanwhile, three days earlier, Hendry sent a press release saying that a veteran of the veterans’ home was returning to NDVS, this time in the role of deputy director of health care services, a position that places this person in charge of both of the veterans’ homes in Nevada. The person in question here is Mark McBride, who served as the administrator of the veterans’ home in Boulder City in 2015.

The release highlights McBride’s 21 years of experience in health care, which includes 11 years as an administrator in skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities.

In a BCR story dated Oct. 23, 2015, McBride was quoted as saying, “While I have enjoyed leading the Nevada State Veterans’ Home this past year, it was my decision to resign my appointed position and return to the private sector.”

In a Jan. 2, 2016 story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, it was first revealed that the family of Charles Demos had filed a lawsuit, which specifically named McBride, over Demos’ death, which occurred while he was a resident at the veterans’ home.

According to the Review-Journal story, “And although 2015 found him up in years at age 88, he deserved a better fate than his “untimely and preventable death” in April as a result of contracting Legionnaires’ Disease at the Nevada State Veterans’ Home in Boulder City. Charles Demos Sr. was a fighter in life, and his surviving son continues to fight in his name.”

That story continues, “Through attorney Martin Little, a complaint and class action lawsuit was filed in District Court in December on behalf of the Demos estate and family that accuses Nevada Department of Veterans Services Administrator Mark McBride of failing to ‘implement a proper program for the prevention, detection, or control of legionella bacteria and the prevention of Legionnaires’ Disease.’”

In 2017, the state paid out a settlement of $750,000 to settle the family’s legal action.

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