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Jul 16, 2017 4:23 PM

Veterans Affairs launches review of Manchester medical center after poor care allegations

NH1.com

MANCHESTER — The Veterans Affairs Office is launching a review of the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center following allegations of poor conditions and patient care.

Boston Globe's Spotlight Team published an article Saturday that made public the claims of patients and doctors who described the alleged issues within the hospital, including an operating room abandoned because of flies and patients struggling to get any care.

“These are serious allegations, and we want our Veterans and our staff to have confidence in the care we’re providing. I have been clear about the importance of transparency, accountability and rapidly fixing any and all problems brought to our attention, and we will do so immediately with these allegations," said David J. Shulkin, M.D., U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The VA Office of the Medical Inspector and the VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection will start their review Monday.

In addition, effective immediately, the department has removed the director and chief of staff at the facility, pending the outcome of the review.

Alfred Montoya, the director of the VAMC in White River Junction, Vermont, will serve as the new director of the Manchester VAMC and the new chief of staff will be announced shortly.

New Hampshire lawmakers have released statements reacting to these allegations.

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen:

"These allegations regarding the Manchester VA are alarming and deeply troubling," said Shaheen. "No veteran should experience the substandard care described in this report. After being informed of these allegations in a meeting with doctors from the Manchester VA, I raised their concerns with the VA Office of Special Counsel and the VA Office of the Inspector General for further investigation. I will continue to work with the VA and, going forward, Secretary Shulkin to investigate these claims and urge that the agency immediately address any shortfalls. Our veterans deserve nothing less than high quality, convenient, accessible health care, and I will not accept anything less."

U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan:

"The poor conditions and quality of care alleged by whistle-blowers at the Manchester VA are completely unacceptable. The VA must immediately launch a full-scale investigation to get answers about these reports of outrageous practices and administrative indifference, including why the hospital recently received such high marks from the VA for its quality of service despite serious problems at the facility. Veterans across New Hampshire and America have demonstrated a selfless commitment to keeping our nation safe, secure and, free, and we must ensure that every one of our veterans receives the care that they need and have earned. I will continue to work with members of both parties to hold the VA accountable for its unacceptable practices."

Congresswoman Annie Kuster:

"The reports concerning the Manchester VA Medical Center are simply unacceptable. Our veterans deserve much better. I was deeply concerned when I met last year with the group of VA doctors. As a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, I brought these concerns to the Office of the Inspector General. I appreciate the seriousness with which Secretary Shulkin is taking this matter, and I will continue to monitor the investigation closely and provide assistance through the House VA Committee. I'm committed to doing all I can to ensure the highest quality of care for all our brave veterans and servicemembers. They deserve nothing less."

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter tweeted:

"Today's report deeply concerning. I support full investigation by . NH vets deserve highest standard of care."

Governor Chris Sununu:

"This morning I spoke with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David Shulkin, and am encouraged by his willingness to address these troublesome allegations quickly, without hesitation, and with an insistence on transparency. Despite previous administrations who swept issues under the rug, Secretary Shulkin has proven that he is willing to take immediate action so that we can restore confidence in the system. We will stop at nothing short of delivering the best care for our veterans.”

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