VA Officials Hid Contamination From Veterans, Kept Them In The Dark

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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VA officials kept veterans in the dark about a bacteria contamination at the Brockton Veterans Affairs facility in Boston — even though it can cause a severe form of pneumonia with a mortality rate up to 30 percent.

After discovering that a former patient had been diagnosed with Legionnaire’s Disease in early October, VA officials took until Oct. 24 to test and discover any trace of the bacteria, The Enterprise reports. At that point, officials moved to close the pool, gym and locker room facilities in an attempt to clean up the mess. They did not notify any veterans about what was really happening.

“They should have told everybody immediately,” Richard Hand Jr., a Marine Corps veteran who uses the pool in Building 23, told The Enterprise. “Nobody said anything to anybody. My concern is, what if you felt sick?”

According to VA spokeswoman Pallas Wahl, the real reason why officials kept the truth from veterans was because the hospital “wanted to increase our measures and make sure that our processes were good and make sure that everything was running smoothly.”

This isn’t the first time Brockton has been plagued with deficient care and poor management. Back in August of 2014, Dr. Mohit Chopra gave an exclusive interview with the Boston Globe, revealing that veterans were receiving care that would have shocked and appalled doctors in Third World countries. When he tried to bring the issues to his superiors, Chopra was ignored and retaliated against.

According to Chopra, patients were neglected, ignored and drugged with incredibly strong antipsychotic medication. In one case, Chopra came across a veteran, Thomas P. Powers, who had been heavily drugged without seeing a psychiatrist in the seven years he had been at the hospital. Powers spent his days in a terrible state, trembling and unable to properly communicate as a result of the side effects of his medications. He soon died.

An independent federal agency, the Office of Special Counsel, supported Chopra’s allegations in a report discussing whistleblowing across the country after the agency conducted a thorough investigation. Yet incredibly, the Office of Special Counsel noted in its report that although the VA admits that it neglected patients and provided substandard care, it still continues to maintain that veterans’ rights were not violated in any way.

The Brockton VA director confirmed that the hospital has since stepped up testing procedures, but veterans are still upset and worried about being left in the dark about this most recent case of Legionnaire’s Disease.

“The people who use (Building 23) constantly should have been notified immediately,” said 71-year-old Al Allsopp. “It’s kind of a late response.”

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