Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) called Director of the Veterans Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System, Gerald F. Culliton, today, in the wake of a distressing new Inspector General (IG) report. DeLauro strongly urged Culliton to fully implement reforms at the West Haven facility to address the multiple issues laid out by the IG.
"The circumstances detailed in this report are disturbing, distressing and do a disservice to the brave men and women who sacrificed for our country. In a phone call this afternoon, I urged Director Culliton to swiftly finalize implementation of each of the IG's recommendations to ensure the operating room environment is a safe and healthy one for our veterans.
"I was pleased to hear Director Culliton agrees that the conditions were unacceptable and that since the report was issued in June the Center has taken steps to meet the IG's recommendations to correct most of these problems. The Director agreed to provide status reports on the matter and we agreed to work together to finalize outstanding policy changes recommended by the IG in the coming weeks so that the Center is able to sustain the improvements that have been made."
According to the IG report:
· Cleaning procedures in the operating room were not being performed appropriately
· There were insufficient staff resources assigned to the operating room (OR)
· Recognized industry standards for cleaning were not being met
· Patients with infectious diseases who may require special precautions were being scheduled for procedures with patients who were not infectious
· OR staff were not always made aware of an infectious patient's status prior to the patient's arrival
Connecticut's delegation to the House of Representatives also sent a letter to Culliton today, expressing their concern with the IG's report. The text of that letter can be viewed below.
We write to express our deep concern with the recently released Veterans Affairs Inspector General Report on "Environment of Care Deficiencies in the Operating Room
VA Connecticut Healthcare System" at the West Haven Medical Center. We understand that since the report was issued in June, the Center has taken steps to implement the Inspector General's recommendations. We want to work with you fully and swiftly implement all the report's recommendations to ensure the brave men and women who sacrificed for our country get the proper care they deserve.
As you know, the Inspector General (IG) report substantiated all allegations made by facility staff about deficiencies in the environment of care in the operating room: cleaning procedures are not properly performed; the Environmental Management Services (EMS) has insufficient staff; EMS staff do not utilize standard operating procedures; patients with infectious diseases are scheduled throughout the day with those who do not have infectious diseases; and staff are not always made aware of an infectious patient's precaution status prior to arrival. In addition, during the course of the review the IG identified issues related to maintenance of the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system and insect control.
In order to properly address these concerns, the IG recommended that the Center strengthen policies and procedures to meet industry standards and to address management of infectious patients, as well as Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system issues. In addition, the IG recommended that the Center reassess EMS staffing needs and ensure that staff and supervisors are properly trained, as well as implement procedures to monitor the operating room environment.
Again, we understand that you have taken steps to implement most of these recommendations, including ensuring operating rooms are regularly cleaned, as well as hiring and training staff. With final implementation of policies to sustain these changes required by the IG by March 15, 2014, we respectfully request that you provide us with a status report on the IG recommendations met and plan for fully meeting all recommendations within the next month.
Thank you and we look forward to working with you on this critical matter.