Military spouse who had miscarriage after fall says she requested private military housing change

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — We’re continuing to cover the problems military members have reported with privatized housing — but one spouse says inattention to her needs has drastically changed her life.

“Wadsworth wasn’t willing to work with medical necessities,” said Rachael McClain. She and her Navy husband moved into Wadsworth Shores in October 2017. It’s one of several local communities run by Lincoln Military Housing.

McClain has fibromyalgia and a nerve condition.

“I am a very high fall risk,” McClain says.

Already a mother of one, she soon became pregnant with her second child. She wanted to move out of her two-story home with steps.

And then she fell down those steps.

“(It was) pure hell. My husband took me to the hospital and they did an ultrasound and they noticed that it wasn’t viable. The heartbeat was gone.

McClain’s shared her ultrasound results with WAVY. They indicated no heartbeat, and blunt trauma from abdominal bruising as causing the miscarriage.

That was nine days after McClain says she told Lincoln’s office of her pregnancy and requested other housing.

But in a statement, Lincoln says the McClains did not notify them of the accident, and did not request any accommodation until several months afterward.

We received this statement Monday morning from Lincoln:

“This is the first we have heard about the injury suffered by Mrs. McClain in 2017. We are sorry for Mrs. McClain and her family, but it is not true that Lincoln was somehow to blame. The McClains were living in a two-story home that they requested, approved, and accepted on move-in. They did not notify Lincoln of the accident or request any accommodation after the accident. In fact, more than two months after the accident, they renewed the lease on their two-story home.

“The McClains did not request a one-story home from Lincoln until eight months after the accident. Mrs. McClain informed Lincoln that they needed a one-story home because she had broken her ankle falling down the stairs and because her mother-in-law helped her at home during the summers. They were offered a two-story, ADA compliant home, which they declined because it had an elevator in it. They were also offered single-level homes in other communities, but rejected those as well. They elected to rent a two-story home managed by a private owner. 

“We regret that Mrs. McClain was not satisfied with the available options that Lincoln was able to offer, but our staff and district managers worked diligently with the McClains to try to accommodate them.”

In fact Lincoln says the McClains renewed their lease two months later in February 2018. By then McClain says her medical needs had changed because she could no longer have children.

“That blunt trauma from falling down the stairs – I can’t have any more kids now.”

Lincoln also points to the couple’s rental application from July 2017. A box to request special accommodations, including one-level housing, is left unchecked. McClain says she wasn’t pregnant yet, and didn’t know how much of a fall-risk she would be.

Lincoln says after McClain’s fall, they offered the family other housing options, but they were rejected.

Other military members tell us they’re satisfied with their Lincoln Housing and the condition of their homes at move-in. Lincoln gives new residents a punch list to document any problems when they take possession.

McClain was among a dozen military families who met in March with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). Several talked about mold, rust and water damage. She says Lincoln’s maintenance people minimized her concerns.

“(They would tell us) it’s just discoloration. It’s not really mold.”

Lincoln CEO Jarl Bliss says, “We welcome and encourage military families to raise issues … mold work orders constitute less than one percent of service requests … we have hired an independent third-party expert to review our entire moisture and mold management program.” 

Here’s the list of actions Lincoln says it’s taken: 

  • Retained a third party mold remediation expert to review our protocols.  That review has been completed and protocols were found to be in accordance with or beyond industry standards.
  • Top company officials have met with Navy, Army and Department of Defense housing leadership on several occasions and regular follow-up meetings have been scheduled.
  • Top company officials have met personally with family advocates at various locations and have continued ongoing dialogue.
  • Working to establish Resident Advisory Board at most locations.
  • Enlisting the help of environmental experts to help resolve issues for families.
  • Participated in Navy led town halls at all locations.
  • Responding to Navy issues raised as a result of the Navy contact with all of their service members.  We have been told that only 13% have requested an in home visit from the Navy. 
  • Created a new oversight position to ensure we have quality control for new residents moving in.  Since implementation, the region has seen satisfaction scores on surveys for new move-in increase significantly, with residents rating their experience “Exceptional” for the months of March and April. 
  • We have increased our staffing to better respond to resident requests and work orders.
  • In an effort to increase communication, resident liaisons are reaching out daily to residents with open work orders to gauge satisfaction and troubleshoot any concerns.
  • To allow more opportunity for feedback, we have added the option for residents to submit an anonymous service survey at LMHSERVICE.com.  This is in addition to move-in surveys, work order surveys and move-out surveys that residents are ask to complete after each process.  
  • Increased the information we share with our government housing partners so that they can better support families.

McClain and her family have moved to civilian housing — a two-story home, but one that has everything she needs on the main level.

She says she could never return to privatized military housing, regardless of what Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) determine in their probe, and what actions Lincoln has already taken and would take in the future.

A Lincoln representative says taking care of military residents’ concerns make good business sense. “There’s no profit motive for us to cut corners on maintenance. If residents aren’t happy the whole business model implodes.”

The company says its homes are more than 95% occupied both locally and nationally — and that wouldn’t be the case if poor maintenance were the norm.

Rachael McClain says she’s still deciding whether to take legal action against Lincoln.

Warner will have a follow-up meeting with residents April 25.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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