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Unsanitary and disrespectful': VA clinic investigating after Army vet placed in filthy patient room

A VA clinic in Salt Lake City is investigating after a veteran received care in a very unclean patient room. The veteran’s father tweeted pictures of a patient's room at the VA clinic. (Image source: KSL-TV screenshot)

The Department of Veterans Affairs is conducting an investigation after a veteran’s father tweeted pictures of a patient's room at a VA clinic in Salt Lake City.

Those pictures, which garnered a lot of attention on social media, show the filthy room his son stayed in April 5 during a routine appointment.

What happened?

The pictures show a patient's room with an overflowing trash can, a messy counter, the sink full and overflowing with a white substance and just a generally dirty room. The father, who tweeted the pictures, described the room as "very unprofessional, unsanitary and disrespectful."

Christopher Wilson, an Army veteran who was placed in the room, described to KSL-TV what he thought of the filthy room when VA employees placed him in it.

"I figured they would say, 'Oh, this room's not clean' and take me somewhere else, but they just kind of blew past it, didn't acknowledge it. They're doctors, right? So I figure one of them was going to say 'Let's go somewhere else' or 'Give us a minute to clean it,' but nothing," he explained.

"There's always something though," he added. "It's kind of weird that the people who are there to serve us kind of see us as a hindrance more than anything. [We] don't seem to be a priority."

However, he attributed the problem not necessarily to the individual staff members working at the clinic, but rather to the bureaucracy that manages the VA clinic system, which is short on funds and staff and heavy on the red tape.

Wilson attended the clinic as a part of a routine appointment where he received injections around his ankle to help treat an injury he sustained when deployed in Iraq.

How did the clinic respond?

Dr. Karen Gribbin, chief of staff at the clinic, told KSL the photos disturbed her and that the clinic has opened an investigation to determine how Wilson was placed in such a dirty room.

"I was taken aback by the condition of the room," Gribbin said. "Mr. Wilson should not have been placed in the room in that condition."

As the pictures made obvious, Wilson was placed in a room that had previously been used to apply casting to a patient.

"My understanding was that strictly these casts are applied in this room but there [are] not other types of debridement or surgical removal of tissue or anything like that that occurs [in the room], so I do not believe Mr. Wilson was exposed to any dangerous body fluids or blood. But regardless, the room should have been cleaned before he was placed in it," she said.

The clinic had a meeting on Monday to address the situation and ensure that it never happens again.

Gribbin explained that she has since spoken with Wilson, where she apologized to him for his "experience."

During her interview with KSL, she also boasted that in six years of working at that clinic, Wilson's "experience" was the only one of its kind that she had ever seen or heard of.

One last thing…
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