A total of four staff members employed at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Talihina, Oklahoma, have resigned after maggots were discovered in the wound of a resident who had been hospitalized at the facility.
The resident, who later died, was originally hospitalized at the facility for an unspecified infection. Executive Director Myles Deering said last week that although the maggots were found in the man's wound before he died, his cause of death was sepsis and was determined to be unrelated to the parasites.
“He did not succumb as a result of the parasites. He succumbed as a result of the sepsis," Deering stated.
Three nurses, including the director of nursing, and a physician's assistant resigned after the investigation started. Shane Faulkner, a spokesman for the department confirmed, "All four chose to resign before the termination process began."
Deering said not only did the facility report the incident to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, it also provided the report to the district attorney to determine if any charges should be filed.
An Atlanta man, Raymie Parker, identified the deceased as his father, Owen Reese Peterson.
Parker said of his encounter with the facility, "During the 21 days I was there... I pled with the medical staff, the senior medical staff, to increase his meds so his bandages could be changed. I was met with a stonewall for much of that time."
He added that while he was impressed with the floor nursing staff, the senior medical staff and administration left much to be desired.
"The facility is 100 years old," Deering stated. He also said that the agency has considered moving the medical center to a newer facility, but fixing the structures at the current location could take millions of dollars.
Oklahoma State Senator Frank Simpson, who also serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, indicated that staffing is a huge problem within the agency.
“The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs is required to maintain certain staffing levels and currently is unable to meet them,” he said. “At Talihina, they had to reduce the population of veterans there due to the inability to staff the facility.”
This is the second time the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs has made headlines for neglectful care in the last few years. In 2012, a former physician's assistant from Claremore Veterans Center served 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to three misdemeanor charges of aggravated assault and battery due to two deaths at the facility that were traced back to caretaker neglect.