Thompson pushing for federal probe of VA hospital

JACKSON — A Mississippi congressman is asking federal authorities to investigate the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Jackson because he believes the hospital is understaffed and patient care is suffering.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said he has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. He said in a news release that he’s asking them to investigate reports of patient deaths, improper access to records and staffing shortages at the hospital.

Hospital spokesman James Theres said in a statement that it wouldn’t be appropriate to respond to Thompson’s letter, but the facility “remains committed to providing the best care anywhere” for veterans.

“In 2011, the Jackson VA was named one of the nation’s top performers on key quality measures by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations,” Theres said. “Jackson VAMC leadership, in conjunction with our labor partners, look forward to personally meeting with Rep. Thompson in the near future to discuss the quality care we provide for Mississippi’s veterans.”

Thompson said numerous constituents and veterans’ groups asked for a review of the hospital’s management and patient care.

“The management of G.V. Sonny Montgomery is in such disarray that essential care stations are being left understaffed, veterans are experiencing serious quality problems in patient care, and medical mistakes are becoming more prevalent leading to serious harm to our veterans and even death,” Thompson wrote in the letter seeking the investigation.

“The fact that veterans can survive some of the most dangerous battlefields around the world only to die prematurely due to inferior medical care back at home is simply unacceptable,” Thompson wrote. “These instances speak to systematic and wide-spread problems which lend to the subpar care of our veteran patients.”

On May 24, the hospital’s associate director of patient care services, Dorothy White-Taylor, was arrested and charged with prescription fraud as part of a continuing investigation by VA’s Office of Inspector General, authorities said. She was released on a $10,000 bond, said Michael Guest, district attorney for Madison and Rankin counties. Theres has declined to discuss details of the case.

Adam Buckalew, spokesman for Republican U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, said veterans’ health care is a priority. Harper and Thompson represent adjoining congressional districts in central Mississippi.

“With any facility of this size and nature, there are always going to be complaints of negligence. But our congressional office has not seen any proven cases of negligence,” Buckalew told the Associated Press.

Jerry Beaird of Eupora, who was state commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars in 2003 and 2004, said in a phone interview Tuesday that he has received medical care from the VA hospital in Jackson the past 20 years and he has no complaints.

“They’ve saved my life down there more than once. I’ve always been treated with the greatest respect,” said Beaird, who served in the Air Force from 1957 to 1977, including time in Vietnam.

“There’s a way you operate that VA hospital down there,” Beaird said. “It’s just like the military. You go in and you play by their rules, you get along just fine. You try to buck those rules, you’ll be standing outside.

Beaird, 76, said he knows of nothing he’d change at the hospital. “I don’t know where Thompson’s getting all this trash,” he said.

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2 Responses to “Thompson pushing for federal probe of VA hospital”

  1. Kevin Walker Says:

    Congressman Thompson is absolutely correct in investigating the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Jackson. It is understaffed and patient care is suffering. I am a veteran, who goes to MVAMC to receive treatment for any ailment I may have. However, I think the service and treatment we veterans’ receive there needs to be improved upon. It’s shocking to me how we can serve in war and put our lives on the line for our country, only to be treated like cattle. I’ve seen veterans who come to the VA in pain seeking some kind of medical treatment, only to be pushed along in a wheelchair from station to station for hours and still haven’t seen a physician. That’s ridiculous!! The older veterans who come for treatment are treated like kids. They’ve been yelled at or disrespected for bringing the wrong paperwork, not making it to their appointments on time, or something simple like asking questions. I’m not making this up. I’ve seen this firsthand. Don’t even get me started on MVAMC’s HR department. I know many veterans, educated veterans mind you, who are unemployed, who have applied there several times, only to be told they are not qualified for the position and want be referred. Example, I’ve applied for a Telephone Operators position several times, only to be told I wasn’t qualified. Come on!!! I have 3 degrees. I’m sure I can answer a telephone! I know. I know. They probably said I’m over qualified or I probably wouldn’t stay in that position long. This may be true. However, the person hired for the job may not stay long either. So, why not hire me. I’m a veteran, with preference, education, and experience. I digress. BETTER SERVICES, BETTER TREATMEMT, and MORE JOBS for VETERANS!!!!!!!!!

  2. Civility Says:

    The solution to the turmoil at the Jackson VAMC is replacement of Senior Management officials, Union Presidents and the entire Human Resource department. Jackson VA has an ongoing civilwar, Whites vs Black, Male Vs Female and Black on Black infighting. One of the male union president is so fixated on removal of Black Women and White males from management roles that Veterans are at risk. White Senior management officials cannot relate to the culture of African Americians in Mississippi and many African Americans are so blinded by self hatred that the mere thought of a another ascending to greatness is a personal threat to self worth and must be challenged. HR in Jackson is a lost cause, the department is staffed with many of the most vile souls ever concentrated in one area. It is openly discussed that a labor relations specialist abused her position when she attempted to bribe and officer with the hopes of getting hired within the VA in order to avoid a DUI ticket. Unions and HR specialist work jointly to antagonize managers in order to prevent correctivedisciplinary actions. Senior officials appear cowardly in the face of making strong decision to remove criminal behaviors when criminals are supported by union officials. The solution is simple conduct an FBI probe into the actions of senior officials, union presidents and the entire HR. Clean house, our Veterans deserve better.

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