Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin removed two top officials from their posts on Sunday at the Manchester VA Medical Center, New Hampshire’s only veterans hospital, after both doctors and staff accused the hospital of having substandard, dangerous conditions.
Shulkin also ordered a “top-to-bottom” review of the facility to begin next Monday after receiving the complaints from 11 physicians and hospital employees who said the hospital was endangering patients because of the conditions, which included a “fly-infested operating room,” unsterilized surgical instruments, and patients whose medical conditions were not addressed or cared for properly, according to the Boston Globe.
Shortly after The Globe’s exposé on the alleged conditions of the hospital published on Sunday, a VA spokesperson confirmed that hospital Director Danielle Ocker and Chief of Staff James Schlosser were removed from their posts and reassigned to other duties in the interim.
As The Globe reported, though Ocker and Schlosser both acknowledged the existence of administrative problems and cuts in services, they said they were shocked to hear the staff thought the problems were so prevalent, and denied that patient safety or health was ever compromised.
Chairman of the State Veterans Advisory Committee Dave Kenney said he hopes that patients are included in the review process.
“They really need to get a complete picture, and everyone’s going to give them a different story,” he said, adding that he wants to see changes made in the system. “They need to put their money where their mouth is. They need to put the resources in to get it done and fix it.”
The probe into Manchester VA Medical Center comes after a report was released detailing over 500 employees who have been fired from the Office of Veterans Affairs, and another 200 who have been suspended. President Donald Trump campaigned heavily on the issue in the 2016 presidential election, often saying he would clean up the VA hospital problems and start taking care of U.S. veterans.
“Never again will we allow any veteran to suffer or die waiting for care,” he said on the campaign trail.