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Top Stories of 2013: Investigation continues into Augusta VA deaths

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A month after admitting it botched its gastrointestinal program so badly that three cancer patients died and 5,100 other veterans had consultations delayed for two years, the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center is not home free yet.

The investigation into the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center's former director, Rebecca Wiley, continues.   MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
The investigation into the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center's former director, Rebecca Wiley, continues.

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

The efforts are aimed at restoring credibility at the hospital and quieting demands for justice from numerous national veterans advocacy groups – such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees.

The fallout began a week before Thanksgiving, when health care administrators at Charlie Norwood publicly apologized for the deaths and consultation backlog.

In hoping to restore order to the clinic, hospital leaders said they had brought in extra personnel; leased and purchased additional scopes; and even re-engineered the clinic’s floorplan to increase patient flow.

The large-scale effort, which was launched in August 2012 and completed three months later, helped the facility determine appropriate treatment plans for 4,560 patients and reduce its backlog to 540 unresolved consults, Director Bob Hamilton said in November.

However, Hamilton, who took over the hospital in July 2012, said that about 50 veterans continue to wait for an appointment. He has declined comment until Miller visits.

According to a 2012 report from the VA Inspector General’s Office, nearly 4,500 of the medical center’s unresolved GI consults might be connected to Wiley’s administration, which lasted from February 2007 to December 2010.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs has requested a copy of all performance reviews, pay bonuses and disciplinary actions Wiley’s administration received as far back as 2007. The request remains unfulfilled by the VA, according to the committee.

Wiley, who retired in 2013 and lives in North Augusta, has declined repeated requests for an interview. Her husband, Richard Wall, said the former director has an attorney, but the family will not release the lawyer’s name or provide a statement through the representative’s office.

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pastor davis
pastor davis 12/28/13 - 05:32 am
Do a back ground check on every person there.

Let start out doing a back ground check on every employer at the V A center in Augusta Ga.I will be glad to testify on what i notice the time my wife was there...There is no security on the ccu at all,and anybody can just walk in to see your love ones .I have a serious problem with that.All that you have to do is go to the 3 floor and mention the room number and they will let you in.I told the staff that i will only let family in and i was told that i can not ask them to do that.I was told that there is not enough staff to check out everybody that come in to see my wife,and that i will have to tell them not to come.I had people going up there when she was sleeping.I even had a notice on my wife room "family member only"It was taken down and put in the trash.

jimbob 12/28/13 - 09:53 am
Incompetent or crooked politicians

I am so sick and tired of our politicians covering for the government employees that are doing malfeasance, and misfeasance, by doing stuff like giving them plenty of notice for their inspection so they can hide even more shortcomings. No wonder so many veterans die at or shortly after staying at the VA's across America. And it is not the fault of the employees in general, just the mismanaged missions and lack of support provided by management at the VA's that are causing the problems. The VA should never know when they are being inspected for anything.

corgimom 12/28/13 - 10:30 am
When my father was alive, he

When my father was alive, he became seriously ill and wanted to go to the VA hospital (this was in California).

We wouldn't let him.

The VA hospitals are short-staffed and overwhelmed, I would never let my loved one go there for anything other than routine care.

rtrct2dok 12/28/13 - 02:40 pm
Welcome to the future of the American healthcare system.

Obamacare is destined to fail spectacularly. And then Americans will be begging for a single payer government system. The VA system is the model.

corgimom 12/28/13 - 07:19 pm
No, it's much better to have

No, it's much better to have people wiped out because they have the misfortune to get sick or be in an accident.

My brother died last year. He delayed getting treatment for 3 years because he didn't have insurance, by the time he finally did get treatment, it was too far advanced.

But the hospital bill, for one surgery, will completely wipe out his estate. He worked 45 years, owned his own business, owned a house, and it will all go to the hospital and doctors.

Fortunately he was single and his children are grown, there wasn't anybody dependent on him. Because if they had, they would now be destitute.

And we are in the wealthiest, most advanced country in the world.

How does that happen? How do people lose everything they work for because they become ill?

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