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Official: Concerns aired over Ann Arbor VA center
Question of the Day
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A health care center for veterans in Ann Arbor has not dealt adequately with complaints about unsafe practices, a federal investigator said Monday in a letter to President Barack Obama.
The VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System was among 10 examples cited by Carolyn Lerner of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, who said failure to fully address whistleblowers’ concerns was putting patients at risk.
The cases “are part of a troubling pattern of deficient patient care at VA facilities nationwide, and the continued resistance by the VA … to recognize and address the impact on the health and safety of veterans,” Lerner said.
Her letter provided few details about the Ann Arbor facility. But it said a whistleblower had alleged that employees were using “unsafe and unsanitary work practices and that untrained employees were improperly handling surgical instruments and supplies.”
The Veterans Affairs Department’s Office of the Medical Inspector “partly substantiated the allegations and made 12 recommendations,” the letter said. But the whistleblower informed Lerner’s office “that it was not clear whether the implementation of the corrective actions resulted in better or safer practices in the sterilization and processing division.”
The medical inspector’s office “failed to address the whistleblower’s specific continuing concerns in a supplemental report,” the letter said.
Robert P. McDivitt, director of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, said in a statement that it “is committed to providing high-quality healthcare to America’s Veterans and we take ANY allegation regarding the safety of our patients very seriously.”
McDivitt did not comment on the whistleblower’s specific allegations, but said, “As we have done in the past, we will continue to fully cooperate with any and every review of our healthcare system.”
Results of a federal audit released earlier this month listed the Ann Arbor center - and outpatient clinics in Muskegon and Lansing - among 112 nationwide that had been designated for further review because of indications that data might have been falsified.
That audit focused on length of time that patients have been forced to wait for appointments at veterans’ health centers around the nation.
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