Hearing of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee - "Sacred Obligation: Restoring Veteran Trust and Patient Safety"


By:  John Barrow
Date: May 3, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Thank you Chairmen Miller and Ranking Member Filner for holding this hearing on restoring the trust our Veterans have in VA's services. We can't keep those promises if Veterans don't trust that VA's facilities and services are safe.

This is an issue that hits close to home for the veterans in my district. The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, GA has been found out of compliance of VA's sterilization process in 2008, 2009, and 2010. They have had to warn veterans that they may have been infected with diseases because of unclean ear, nose, and throat utensils. As recently as November, the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center had to halt all elective procedures because they were not following the proper sterilization procedure.

Just two weeks ago, The American Legion inspected the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, GA. The Legion found what we already know: like many VA facilities throughout the nation, the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center has been under the supervision of an "Acting Director" for several months. Without a permanent director a VA hospital does not have the long term leadership to initiate the reforms to ensure high quality, safe, and reliable care. And until veterans can trust that the care they receive is high quality, safe, and reliable we aren't keeping the most basic promise to them.

I look forward to the testimony of today's witnesses, and I hope we can identify specific solutions to specific problems, like having too many "Acting Supervisors" in positions that require long term accountability.

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