12 OYS: Lawmakers say Norwood VA "has not complied with requests" following deaths

By: Jerome Collins Email
By: Jerome Collins Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- "A lot of my consults that have been sent, I have waited, and waited, and waited," says Air Force Veteran Richard Johnson.

He says he was so frustrated over medical delays at Charlie Norwood VA Hospital that he sought treatment at community hospital.

"They did a colonoscopy and this time they found polyps and one was pre-cancer," says Johnson. He says had he waited on Norwood VA, the outcome could have been worse.

Three veterans died as a result of inadequate medical care at Charlie Norwood VA Hospital. Those deaths have led to an investigation by the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

"The patient safety culture in the VA is fractured and accountability and leadership at the helm are lacking," says Committee Chairman and Republican Representative Jeff Miller. He and other congressman, including John Barrow want those responsible for the deaths to be held accountable.

"What has happened at the Charlie Norwood VA is totally unacceptable," says Barrow.

The Veterans' Affairs Committee says the Norwood facility also failed to comply with lawmaker's requests for " information regarding disciplinary actions taken against any VA employees involved in delays in care in Augusta."

In September the Veterans' Affairs Committee requested the hospital provide performance reviews, disciplinary actions, and other documentation related to patient backlogs and unresolved consults for any personnel responsible for overseeing patient care, including Director Robert Hamilton.

You may recall last month when News 12 asked Hamilton who is responsible for those three deaths. He told us, "they are multifactorial. There is no one individual who is responsible in delays in this type of care."

"The time for talk is over. The VA has got to confront these issues head on," says Miller.

Meanwhile Director Hamilton also told us last month he would speak with us in matters related to this case. However when we asked for an interview we received this statement:

"I am confident that you understand the importance that Director Hamilton and our entire staff place on Congressman Miller's visit in early January. We will need to defer comment until after that visit and the congressman's scheduled meeting with the press here in Augusta."

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