- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Lawmakers are calling for an investigation and audit of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, citing a list of complaints about the agency’s policies and purchasing decisions.

Rep. Brian Renegar of McAlester leads the group of Democrat representatives, including Vinita’s Chuck Hoskin, Owasso’s Dale Derby and Broken Arrow’s Mike Ritze, The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/2op4nGN ) reported.

At a press conference Tuesday, Renegar criticized a directive by the department to “lock up” heart monitoring machines and take out lab machines from the department’s centers.

“There is a move to decrease the level of care for our veterans and move our veteran centers to the level of care of nursing homes,” Renegar said.

The department argued that the centers aren’t staffed with personnel qualified to analyze results from an electrocardiogram machine. It said a resident experiencing chest pains should be sent to an emergency room.

“Should ODVA’s budget be restored with the $10 million that it has lost in the last seven years, it could easily restore all the services that were once present, hire additional doctors, operate 24-hour lab services and many other luxuries that are currently not feasible,” the unsigned response noted.

The department has been under scrutiny for the health of veterans after the two high-profile deaths Owen Reese Peterson, 73, and Leonard Smith, 70, at the Talihina Veteran Center.

Peterson died of sepsis and was found with maggots in his body. Smith, who had advanced dementia, choked to death.

Legislation failed in a House committee that would allow for the relocation of the Talihina Veterans Center.

Oklahoma Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones said an audit can’t be initiated based solely on a legislator’s request.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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