Florida Veterans Affairs hospital threw out state inspectors

Michael Volpe | Contributor

Two Florida health-care officials were escorted out and had their on-site review abruptly ended at a Florida Veterans Administration (VA) hospital last week.

Florida’s Secretary for the Agency of Health Care Administration (AHCA) Liz Dudek described how the two surveyors were treated when they attempted to inspect the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center on Thursday: “Two surveyors went to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center at 10:15 a.m. and were escorted out around 11:15 after being declined the opportunity to review any records at that time. They were told an official response would be provided from the VA’s national office in Washington D.C.”

“Florida’s veterans who have so bravely fought to defend and protect our nation deserve quality health care, and I am disappointed in the federal government’s lack of transparency to this point,” she continued. “We look forward to hearing back from the VA very soon so we can continue the dialogue about how the agency can review their processes so any shortcomings can be promptly identified and addressed.”

Shelisha Coleman, press secretary for AHCA, said her office hadn’t received an official explanation of the incident from the VA as of publication.

Florida’s AHCA was conducting a review of the facility on the order of Florida Gov. Rick Scott after reports of patient deaths at several VA hospitals around the country, according to a statement issued by AHCA. Florida Governor Rick Scott decried the lack of transparency in a statement on the incident.

A phone call by The Daily Caller to the media department of the West Palm Beach VA Hospital was left unreturned. An email to the media relations for the VA in Washington D.C. was also left unreturned.

AHCA said their surveyors were performing supporting roles.

“While federal VA medical centers are owned and regulated by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and its vendors, the agency has the local field support and expertise to assess the risk management programs and internal incident reporting practices with hospitals,” Coleman said. “The agency regulates more than 200 hospitals in Florida so we have the knowledge to assist the VA in reviewing procedures. We are committed to helping protect the health and safety of our veterans who are deserving of quality care.”

The VA was also criticized earlier last week when the House Veteran Affairs Committee held a hearing on its lack of transparency.

“Notable outstanding information requests include several inquiries regarding delays in VA medical care, an issue since linked to the preventable deaths of at least 19 veterans,” a committee press release for the hearing reads. “So far, VA has refused to reveal the specific VA facilities where many of the veterans who died were seeking treatment.”

Tags : department of veterans affairs
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