- Associated Press - Monday, January 26, 2015
VA Secretary says he will investigate Tomah medical center

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald announced Monday that he will launch an investigation into a Tomah VA medical center that came under scrutiny for overprescribing opiates after a Marine died there.

The monthlong investigation to begin this week will look into allegations about the use of opiates as well as retaliation against employees, McDonald said in a statement.

“While important changes are being made to improve services to Wisconsin veterans immediately, we must ensure that we fully investigate the issues surrounding the possible overuse of powerful medicines and to share these lessons learned throughout our health care system,” McDonald said Monday.

He cited inquiries from Rep. Ron Kind and Sen. Tammy Baldwin for bringing the issue to his attention.

Baldwin, in a column published in newspapers across the state Sunday, said she accepts responsibility for her office mishandling accusations that the center overprescribed opiates and she should have called for an investigation sooner.

The senator said she should have listened and communicated better with the constituent who first brought the issues to her attention in March. Baldwin sent inquiries to the VA’s Office of the Inspector General seeking additional information about an investigation about overuse of opiates at the hospital, but did not receive a copy of the Inspector General’s report until August.

A 35-year-old former Marine died of an overdose in the center’s inpatient care unit in August.


Drowning of boy in Milwaukee hotel pool ruled accidental

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office says the death of a 7-year-old boy who drowned while attending a birthday party at a Milwaukee hotel was an accident.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1thPMgjhttps://bit.ly/1thPMgj ) reports Noah Beckley was attending the party with about a dozen other children at the Comfort Inn and Suites on Saturday. Ten adults also were present.

The hotel has two pools - one only a foot deep and another with a depth of about five feet.

Surveillance video reviewed by Milwaukee police showed the boy walking to the end of the deep pool by himself and jumping in. He was underwater about five minutes before someone saw him and pulled him from the pool.

Investigators were told the boy did not know how to swim.


Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.comhttps://www.jsonline.com


1 dies, 2 survive when plane crashes in central Wisconsin

OWEN, Wis. (AP) - Weather appears to have been a factor in a single-engine plane crash in central Wisconsin that killed one person and injured two others Monday, the Clark County sheriff’s office said.

The victim was a passenger in a four-seat Cessna 182 that was trying to make an emergency landing on a road in the town of Hoard at about 10:45 a.m., Sheriff Greg Herrick said. Two other people in the plane suffered non-life-threatening injuries, News-Herald Media reported.

The pilot reported that the wings started to ice up about 8,000 feet in the air, so he started circling while looking for a road to try an emergency landing, Herrick said. As the plane touched down, the wing clipped tree branches, causing the plane to crash into the ditch, the sheriff said.

The pilot and a passenger were taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield. One passenger died at the scene. Their names were being withheld until relatives are notified.

The plane was traveling from Menominee, Michigan, to Litchfield, Minnesota, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory told WAOW-TV.

The FAA and the sheriff’s office are investigating.


Wisconsin DOJ didn’t track gay marriage case hours

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The state Department of Justice says it doesn’t have any records of the hours it spent defending Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban, making the full cost of fighting the case impossible to determine.

A group of gay couples filed a lawsuit last year challenging the marriage ban. They won the case this past fall when the U.S. Supreme Court refused the DOJ’s request to review a federal appeals court ruling that the ban was unconstitutional.

DOJ officials said Monday they typically don’t track hours their lawyers spend on cases and assistant attorney generals aren’t eligible for overtime.

The agency did release records that show it paid out about $5,750 for legal filing fees, shipping fees and an expert witness. The agency also paid out about $400 for two attorneys’ travel expenses.

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