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Charlie Norwood's wife remains supportive of Augusta VA

Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 7:49 PM
Last updated Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 1:12 AM
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The wife of the late Charlie Norwood, an Augusta dentist who served in the House of Representatives 12 years before he died in 2007, said that the death of three cancer patients at the VA medical center named in her husband’s honor is a tragedy, but that she still has faith in the hospital’s system of care.

Gloria Norwood participated in a rededication ceremony in January 2008, when the Augusta VA was renamed the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. The wife of the late congressman remains supportive amid the controversy.  FILE/STAFF
Gloria Norwood participated in a rededication ceremony in January 2008, when the Augusta VA was renamed the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. The wife of the late congressman remains supportive amid the controversy.

“It was a distinct honor for his colleagues in Washington to suggest and put it in place for the hospitals of this district to be named in his honor,” Gloria Norwood said in a recent interview with The Augusta Chronicle. “My husband was very committed to the military, and I felt the gesture to be fitting – and I continue to feel that way.”

The Augusta VA Medical Center was renamed for Charlie Norwood in January 2008, almost a year after his death at the age of 65 because of complications from his eight-year battle with metastatic lung cancer and chronic lung disease.

More than five years later, the hospital’s gastrointestinal program has been linked to the deaths of three cancer patients between 2010 and 2011 because of consultation delays that involved at least 5,100 veterans.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs continues to investigate the administration of the hospital’s former director, Rebecca Wiley. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., will lead a congressional oversight visit at the facility Jan. 6 to hold those accountable for the missteps.

“It is certainly a tragedy,” Gloria Norwood said of the lapse in care. “I don’t understand it and I don’t know how it could have possibly happened.”

After the fallout, health care administrators at the Augusta VA said they brought in extra personnel, leased and purchased additional scopes, and even re-engineered the hospital’s floor plan to increase patient flow.

The three-month effort helped the facility reduce its backlog to 540 unresolved consults and Norwood said she hopes that the problems have been identified and corrected.

“I hear stories almost every day of what great treatment patients get at the VA,” Norwood said.

Last week, Norwood said, a friend told her that her husband had a stroke and had been in the VA twice. Norwood said the friend described the care as “fabulous.”

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, Charlie Norwood represented most of east Georgia at some point during his political career.

He served as a captain in the Army from 1967 to 1969 and initially was assigned to the dental corps at Sandia Army Base in Albuquerque, N.M. In 1968, he was transferred to the medical battalion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam, serving at Quin Yon, An Khe and LZ English at Bon Son.

During his tour, Norwood performed experimental military dental procedures that are now standard for the armed forces. He was one of the first participants in the Army’s outreach program to deliver dentists to forward firebases in lieu of transferring patients to rear treatment areas.

In recognition of his service under combat conditions, Norwood was awarded the Combat Medical Badge and two Bronze Stars. Upon returning from Vietnam, the Valdosta, Ga., native was assigned to the dental corps at Fort Gordon. He married Gloria in 1962 while getting a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern College.

“Charlie really didn’t receive much bad publicity in his lifetime,” Gloria Norwood said. “He was a well thought of dentist and politician.”

Norwood said she knew Wiley well and that the former director was kind to the family.

“It can’t be that they just picked on gastrointestinal patients,” Norwood said. “There has to be more to it. There has to be a series of reasons that mushroomed into this tragedy.”

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corgimom 12/26/13 - 10:14 pm
I don't understand this at

I don't understand this at all.

How is Gloria Norwood involved in this, and why would anyone ask her opinion of what is happening at the hospital?

I get it that she's Charlie's widow, but how is she involved in this story?

corgimom 12/26/13 - 10:15 pm
"During his tour, Norwood

"During his tour, Norwood performed experimental military dental procedures that are now standard for the armed forces. "

But, if he first practiced those procedures on animals, particularly dogs, there are those who would condemn him.

SemperParatus 12/26/13 - 11:17 pm
Personally, I oppose naming

Personally, I oppose naming ANYTHING after politicians. We taxpayers provide them with salaries and benefits and that's enough! It's too bad that Mrs Norwood wasn't asked to flex her muscles to gain approval for children to sing Christmas carols at the hospital earlier this week.

myfather15 12/27/13 - 07:52 am
Maybe off topic a little but.....

I've been reading a lot on history, as usual for me. The "Politicians" that founded this Country, we well beloved by their people!! Why? Because they honestly CARED about the people!! Most everything they did, was NOT for personal gain, or to get reelected; it was for the betterment of the PEOPLE. Many politicians of those days, were also great military commanders!! Leading their troops into battle with fierce bravery!! Are there politicians like that today?

Many citizens, during the founding of this Country, gave their LIVES to save people like Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Patrick Henry, George Washington and more!! Many tales of heroic sacrifice are reported during those times. Many people gave their lives, to save these mens lives, because they believed these men to be GREAT and of dire importance!!

During the Revolutionary War, they believed if these men were Captured or killed, it would give the Brittish momentum and a clear advantage!! So many, laid there lives down to save them!!

Now, ask yourself this question. Is there any politicians today, that YOU would give your life to save? Because they are just that important?

Maybe I'm right and maybe I'm wrong, but my answer would be, NO!! Because politicians today are just politicians!! Always concerned with the next elections results, instead of doing what's right!! More concerned with party loyalty, than doing positive things for the PEOPLE!! More concerned with their own political careers, than leading with HONOR, INTEGRITY and DISCIPLINE!!

So today, if one dies, they are replaced with one, just like them!! There isn't a single one on EITHER SIDE, that I believe is just remarkable and unreplaceable!!!

Basically, we simply do NOT have people with moral and honorable character today!! THAT, is my opinion!!

myfather15 12/27/13 - 07:53 am
Yes, it appears this VA, has

Yes, it appears this VA, has bigger problems than worrying about Christmas Carols with Christ in them, being sang!!!

iaaffg 12/27/13 - 08:00 am
let 'em eat cake

why did this article make me want to puke?

thauch12 12/28/13 - 04:27 am

The VA is the poster child for the motto "you get what you pay for." Something that's so heavily government subsidized is bound to run into these kinds of problems. It's sad, but that's reality.

GuyGene 12/28/13 - 12:50 pm
Thank you Mrs. Norwood

As a service connected disabled Vietnam vet, I appreciate any help we can get! So, Mrs. Norwood, Thank You for any support you can give to the VA to make it better! There's a lot I could complain about, but it's hard to complain when all I can think about is how blessed I am to still be here.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 12/28/13 - 07:48 pm
Spiritual Policy

So Gloria Norwood supports VA medical policy.

I wonder whether she supports VA spiritual policy that forbade singers from the Alleluia Community School to sing Christmas carols in the lobby? Disgusting.

Bulldog 12/29/13 - 07:53 pm

The VA is being asked to provide for an unlimited need while having limited resources. Medicine, food, housing and just about everything else in this world is rationed with money. The VA does the best it can to provide good care for as many as possible, but until the resources match the demand, bad outcomes are going to occur.

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