VA Executives Put On Leave Over 40 Veteran Deaths

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May 2, 2014 10:21am PST

Three Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital executives have found themselves in a bit of hot water lately after it was disclosed that a secret list ended in the deaths of over 40 veteran patients. Since that time, those executives have been ordered on unpaid leave while the VA conducts the rest of its interview.

Phoenix VA Health Care System Director Sharon Helman and associate director Lance Robinson along with another unnamed individual were recently told of their situation pending, “until further notice.” The suspensions have come as a result of recent allegations detailing that the hospital was directly responsible for the deaths of veteran patients on account of lengthy wait times for treatment.

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In an effort to conceal their wrongdoings, and make the hospital look more efficient, the VA kept that list secret. As the news broke of the allegations, Helman was quick to address the public saying that there was no secret list and that the VA could not find any evidence that any patients had died due to delayed care.

Explaining this to the Associated Press (AP), Helman stated, “We take those allegations very seriously.” Furthermore, she commented, “I have given over 20 years of service to this mission. I am proud to lead this hospital.”

Helman concluded by saying, “I have never wavered from the ethical standards that I have held my entire career, and I will continue to give these veterans what they deserve, which is the best health care.” Of course, since the recent decision to place her on leave, Helman has been mum on the matter, relaying refusal to comment.

The VA has been in the news lately as they struggle to complete their tasks with the resources they have available. In order to make thing appear better than they are however, many VA hospitals have taken to fudging the numbers. According to Dr. Samuel Foote, the man who publicly made the accusations, explains that, “the purported successes resulted from data manipulation rather than improved service for veterans.”

After learning of the wrongdoings behind the scenes, a slew of Congressmen were quick to demand Helman be held accountable and just a few days later, she now sits at home. One of those Reps was Matt Salmon who conveyed, “Hopefully, this is the first step in rebuilding the trust and restoring the confidence that our Arizona veterans have lost in our VA system.”

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As of right now, U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki notes that the investigation has been forwarded to the inspector general’s office. “We believe it is important to allow an independent, objective review to proceed,” Shinseki explained. “These allegations, if true, are absolutely unacceptable and if the Inspector General’s investigation substantiates these claims, swift and appropriate action will be taken.”

What do you guys think – should someone who runs a hospital that resulted in the deaths of 40 veterans (or anyone for that matter) be held accountable? Let us know in a comment below.

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