Rep. Watt Reacts to Good and Bad News at Hefner VA Hospital
Congressman Mel Watt (12th District - NC) today announced that two high priority construction projects at the W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center will be receiving funding in the total amount of approximately $9 million. The funding will enable the Hefner Medical Center to consolidate and expand specialty care and surgery facilities.
The money for these projects comes from the $397 million increase in funding for the Veterans Administration which Congress approved beyond what President Bush requested for the VA in the President's budget request last year. Congressman Watt said: "I am especially proud to announce funding for these projects because a number of us worked so hard to show real commitments to our veterans following revelations about deteriorating conditions and treatment at the Walter Reed Hospital and unsatisfactory patient care and declining conditions at so many of our other VA facilities around the country, including the Hefner Medical Center in Salisbury. This shows a real commitment to improve the care of our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country."
Unfortunately, this announcement of additional funding came on the same day that Congressman Watt was notified of yet another revelation about substandard care that had taken place at the Hefner VA Medical Center in 2005. A recent VA Inspector General's report found that in 2005 a veteran's advancing colon cancer went undetected as a result of delayed testing and missed opportunities for diagnosis at the Hefner VA Medical Center and that the veteran's condition was ultimately diagnosed by a private physician after the cancer was untreatable. This follows revelations last year of a number of other cases of substandard care at the Hefner Medical Center prior to congressional hearings held last year. Following these hearings representatives of the Medical Center detailed plans to improve treatment and care at the facility. Watt expressed regret about this most recent revelation and said: "This is further confirmation that we needed to improve funding for veterans' health care to improve both the VA facilities and the quality of care at these facilities. I hope the corrective actions already announced by the Director and staff will prevent future incidents of the kind reported in the Inspector General's report and will eventually restore confidence in the quality of care at the Hefner VA Medical Center."