Unsanitary conditions at VA facilities have become unfortunately common at this point. Patients not only have to worry about long wait times or the ability to get into a VA facility for treatment, but they also often face unclean conditions once they do get in. Here’s a look at some of the evidence:
- Chicago-area VA: cockroaches found in the kitchen and in patients’ food.
- Cincinnati VA: unsterile surgical tools in operation rooms – “bone-contaminated drill bits, broken or rusty surgical instruments, holes in sterile wrappers, and a needle holder that arrived with a used needle still in it.”
- Long Island, NY VA: shut down operating room due to “sand-sized black particles” falling from the ceiling and coating the OR
- Tomah, Wisconsin VA: patients alerted they can receive testing for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV due to the use of improperly sterilized dental equipment.
Recent reports add to the list of unsanitary VA hospitals around the nation. In Arkansas, the Veterans Health System of the Ozarks released a statement that staff “didn’t follow updated cleaning standards for instruments used in eye surgery.” This system has a five-star quality rating from the VA. As we know from whistleblower allegations in Manchester, New Hampshire, a high-quality rating doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a high-quality facility.
In Denver, Colorado, the Office of Inspector General confirmed that earlier this year it found “cleanliness problems in eight patient care areas, two areas where instruments are sterilized and in some ice machines and refrigerators in the kitchens.” It’s worth noting that the Denver VA facility is being replaced by a new facility in Aurora, but that new facility is currently $1 billion over budget and years late.
Unfortunately, this is just a snapshot of the poor management and filthy conditions veterans are often subjected to. These issues underscore the desperate need to reform the VA. No patient should fear the unsanitary conditions of a health care system, and no patient should be forced to stay in that health care system if the care is substandard.
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