Investigative Group

While VA Hospital Boasted Of 20-Person Transgender Program, 100,000 Vets Lacked ‘Safe’ Care


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Luke Rosiak Investigative Reporter
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A Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital that touted its program focusing on 20 transgendered individuals failed in caring for the remaining 111,000 veterans on health care essentials like keeping its medical equipment clean and properly training employees, government auditors found.

“We could not gain reasonable assurance that clinical managers effectively monitor the professional competency of providers … patient equipment is clean … [and] employees ensure a safe and healthy environment,” according to the Inspect General (IG) report on the activities at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center released March 13.

The hospital in question was the subject of positive news coverage in late 2015, with a publicity campaign surrounding the opening of a “clinic for transgender patients.” Veterans are able to receive taxpayer-funded sex change hormones,  CBS News reported at the time.

“Opening this transgender clinic allows us to continue to provide compassionate care in a space dedicated specifically to transgender veterans,” Susan Fuehrer, the hospital’s director, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The hospital’s LGBT office touts that it is a “leader in LGBT healthcare equality.”

“The VA has been stepping up their game,” said Evan Young, president of the Transgender American Veterans Association. “Patients need a health care provider who is sensitive and has the actual clinical knowledge and experience to treat transgender patients.”

Despite politically correct news reports emphasizing the 20 transgendered patients, basic care and treatment for the remaining 111,000 veterans who depend on Louis Stokes Cleveland VA has been lacking, the IG found.

There are “system weaknesses in credentialing and privileging, utilization management, patient safety, environmental cleanliness … and Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program processes” for the remaining veteran population, reported the IG.

Eighty-seven percent of employees didn’t have documentation showing they took required training for “their assigned risk area.” In addition, the report said “employees did not consistently document hourly safety and security rounds.”

The percentage of patients having to use the emergency room, instead of primary care, was twice as great as the VA overall.

Former hospital Director William Montague was sentenced to nearly five years in prison in June, 2016, for taking bribes from companies seeking $1 billion in government contracts. He pleaded guilty to 64 felony counts.

Hospital employee Andre Baker was charged in October with felony patient abuse and assault for grabbing a patient by his neck “in a sudden and quick fashion” and injuring him after an argument.

The VA would not confirm that Baker’s employment had been terminated.

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