Isakson right in calling for field hearing on VAMC mismanagement
by Don McKee
June 13, 2013 11:46 PM | 1357 views | 2 2 comments | 67 67 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is asking for an Atlanta field hearing by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in August to look into mismanagement of mental health programs at the Atlanta VA Medical Center that have been linked to four suicides by veterans.

“It is imperative that the committee follows up with the VA in a public forum to address the problems at the Atlanta VA Medical Center and any progress the VA has made in improving the mental health care provided in all of their facilities,” Isakson said in a news release this week. He said the committee, on which he sits, “can learn from these incidents to make sure they are not happening elsewhere in the VA system.”

Isakson suggested that the committee invite VA officials from national, regional and local offices along with private sector and community mental health care providers. He also wants senators and their staffs to tour the Atlanta center and the mental health unit which was the subject of a scathing report by the VA inspector general in April. Since then a new director and new mental health chief have been appointed with promises of changes to fix the problems.

But less than a month ago, a Marine veteran who was admitted with an abscess in his colon waited four days without treatment, finally left and had surgery at a private hospital although he had no insurance.

Last week Isakson and his Georgia colleague, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a member of the Armed Services Committee, sent two letters to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki “demanding answers” to the inspector general’s report about “egregious mismanagement” at the Atlanta facility and its contract with the DeKalb County Community Service Board.

The senators wrote that the inspector general’s report “substantiated allegations that the hospital did not have adequate policies and procedures in place to ensure patient safety, to supervise clinical changes in patients, or to monitor patients in the mental health unit.”

In response, the facility “implemented its action plan and established policies and procedures in line with the IG’s recommendations.”

But Isakson and Chambliss are rightly asking for specifics: “What metrics, benchmarks, statistics and results does the Atlanta VAMC now use to track the performance of the inpatient mental health unit since the implementation of the action plan?

“We fear that this lack of oversight might exist in other VAMC across the country,” the senators wrote. “We believe the mismanagement of the mental health programs at the Atlanta VAMC provides an opportunity to explore the lessons learned and to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated anywhere else in the country.”

But it’s not only patient care that needs scrutiny. The regional VA office in Cleveland, Ohio “has deleted almost half a million electronic records which contain active loans, grants and applications,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said this week after sending a letter to the VA secretary urging “swift action to protect our veterans and ensure that this incident never happens again.”

All this could be the tip of an iceberg?
Comments-icon Post a Comment
off balance
June 14, 2013
@Pat H=

Another home run Pat! Isakson is using a typical pol trick. Support someone or something that is being mishandled while , on the other hand, you back the wishes of your monied friends.
Pat H
June 14, 2013
Isakson had supported the illegal invasion and helped to author the 2007 McCain/Kennedy amnesty. He has voted to bring forward the amnesty bill yesterday.

This is just a diversion so we won't see what he is doing to threaten our very culture and country. His policies and votes have caused more deaths and injuries than any VA hospital or employee.

As a veteran, my healthcare has been above the standard I received from my private providers, and as a former Army nurse I know what is necessary.
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