Since president-elect Donald Trump announced his presidency, he has emphasized his commitment to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs calling it “the most corrupt agency” in the country and charging that some veterans are “being treated worse than illegal immigrants.”
The Veterans Administration is a mess, and evidence of abuse and neglect to our nations veterans has been seen in facilities all over the country and President Obama’s neglect is to blame.
Case in point, an internal report blames staffers at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Florida for leaving the body of a deceased veteran to decompose in a shower for nine hours and then tried to cover it up.
Some hospice staff violated hospital and Veterans Affairs policies by “failing to provide appropriate post-mortem care,” including proper transportation of the VETERAN’S body to the morgue, according to the 24 page report by the hospital’s Administrative Investigation Board.
Hospital spokesman Jason Dangel told the Tampa Bay Times hospital officials view what happened as unacceptable.
Here’s how the report describes the incident:
Once the veteran died, hospice staff members made direct verbal requests to an individual described as the transporter for the body to be moved to the morgue. The transporter told them to follow proper procedures instead by contacting dispatchers. That request was never made, so those responsible for taking away the body never showed up.
At first, the body was moved to a hallway in the hospice, then to a shower room, where it stayed, unattended, for more than nine hours.
Some hospice staff “demonstrated a lack of concern, attention and respect” for the veteran, the report says.
Once the problem was discovered, efforts to understand how it happened were stalled by failures in oversight and by reports that “falsely documented” the incident, the report says. Staff misrepresented why the problem occurred, attributing it to a communications breakdown that never happened, according to the report.
The report also found that a staff member then “falsely documented” the incident, Fox 13 reported.
The investigative report said that leaving the body unattended for so long increased the chance of decomposition.
“The report details a total failure on the part of the Department of Veterans Affairs and an urgent need for greater accountability,” Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., told the station. “Unsurprisingly, not a single VA employee has been fired following this incident, despite a clear lack of concern and respect for the veteran. The men and women who sacrificed on behalf of our nation deserve better.”
In addition, investigators found:
• Hospice staff failed to check a 24-hour nursing report that would signal whether the death was properly reported and failed to ask personnel involved about the hand-off.
• Questioned later by investigators, some responsible for oversight at the hospice blamed a shortage of clerical staff — a claim they later recanted.
• Staff failed to update a nursing service organizational chart, hampering efforts to determine who was in charge.
• The hospice unit lacks a structured plan for educating personnel on best practices.
Dangel, the hospital’s spokesman, said changes have been made to address problems uncovered during the investigation.
All hospice staff have “recommitted” to the VA’s core values, education and training, as well as proper review of policy and procedures. Hospice nursing professionals were required to sign a form saying they understand and will follow post-mortem care policy and practice. And nursing safety rounds were initiated to ensure ongoing education and oversight in the unit.
“We feel that we have taken strong, appropriate and expeditious steps to strengthen and improve our existing systems and processes within the unit,” Dangel said. “It is our expectation that each veteran is transported to their final resting place in the timely, respectful and honorable manner. America’s heroes deserve nothing less.”
Donald Trump will take office in January and his choice of VA Secretary will send a strong message as to how seriously her takes his pledge to our veterans.