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Three confirmed dead because of delayed care at Augusta VA

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 6:51 PM
Last updated Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 10:24 AM
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The Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta confirmed Wednesday that three of its cancer patients died needlessly in the past two years because of long waits and delayed care in the hospital’s gastrointestinal program.

The hospital declined to release the names of the victims; however, the deaths have reportedly been tied to the medical center’s former director, Rebecca Wiley.

During her time in Augusta from February 2007 to December 2010, Wiley’s mismanagement of staff and medical procedures led to five patients sustaining injury or death and more than 4,500 gastrointestinal endoscopy consults going unresolved, according to a 2012 report from the VA Inspector General’s Office.

Pete Scovill, spokesman for the Charlie Norwood VA, would not go into detail Wednesday about how the three gastrointestinal cancer victims died.

“These brave service men fell victim to cancer that may have been avoided had they received specialized screenings during the early stages of the disease,” Scovill said in e-mailed statement. “We have worked diligently to eliminate the roadblocks that delayed these all important screenings and would like to share with you and our community our improvements and system changes that may keep other comrade at arms from falling victim to this insidious scourge, cancer.”

According to a report broadcast Wednesday by CNN and citing government documents, six deaths at the Williams Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Medical Center in Columbia occurred under Wiley’s administration as well.

The health care administrator was named director of the South Carolina hospital in November 2011, almost a year after she left Augusta and the city’s VA center lost full accreditation.

During her time in Columbia, the VA’s Inspector General found facilities operating below minimum staffing requirements, an absence of quality management oversight, and delays in testing and traumatic brain injury care.

Additionally, the VA found that mismanagement during some of Wiley’s tenure in Columbia contributed to a backlog of nearly 4,000 gastrointestinal appointment delays, which in turn led to 19 instances of serious injury or death for veteran patients.

In light of the allegations, the House of Representative’s Committee on Veterans Affairs in late September requested copies of all current accounts of appointment backlogs and patient injuries. They also asked for any records reflecting performance reviews, pay bonuses and disciplinary actions issued since 2002 to those who oversee patient safety in Augusta.

Curt Cashour, the committee’s communications director, said Wednesday the request remains unfulfilled.

By the numbers

According to the October 2012 internal memo from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency’s regional office in Atlanta began a review of colonoscopies at the Charlie Norwood Medical Center in Augusta after discovering problems with scheduling appointments. The review found a backlog of 4,503 consults, including:

340 for diagnosis

1,304 for surveillance

53 for additional review and of those, five resulted in an death or injury

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CobaltGeorge 11/20/13 - 08:30 pm
1st Stage

of the up coming Death Panel....Please God, Help our Veterans!

LeConteSkier 11/20/13 - 10:47 pm
Best VA Wait Times???

And this was just mentioned last week as one of the BETTER wait time VA facilities! This is only the beginning if God forbid Obama Care continues to phaseout health insurance. Hopefully republicans can take over the house and senate at midterm elections to stop and begin to undo the snowball effect this has caused.

GnipGnop 11/21/13 - 02:16 am
I hope all you liberals that worship Obama

Realize this is the outcome of government must be crazy to want the federal government to be in charge of anything!

skeptical 11/21/13 - 06:51 am
Tip of the iceberg

Let me assure you that, given the overall quality of care at the Norwood VAMC, these three unfortunate vets are just the tip of the iceberg. The place is atrocious.

fishman960 11/21/13 - 10:46 am

A family member of mine died recently at the uptown. Can't say if they could have prolonged his life or not. His death was a result of bad life choices coupled with other medical issues.
I can't say I was dissatisfied with the care he got at the downtown or uptown.
What I can say is that my experience is based with University and more recently M.C.G.
The first thing I noticed with the V.A. when he entered is that the feel is entirely different there as compared to the other two I mentioned.
University and MCG is bustling with life and the aspect of getting well and getting out. Call it a feeling of living.
Both V.A. complexes to me had more of a nursing home, inevitable sense of impending death and more of a hospice atmosphere rather than a focus of healing and living.
My father died of bladder cancer in 1999 after being treated at DDEAMC and my feeling is that they could have done more to save his life but that is another issue.
My 2 cents for today...

daphne3520 11/21/13 - 12:17 pm
Rebecca Wiley NEEDS sued and is an Ogre!!!!! NO TEXT!

No Text! (why'd ya bother to look?)

daphne3520 11/21/13 - 12:19 pm
And, The VMAC Borwood Center IS a PITA!!!! NO TEXT AGAIN!

NO Text ( AND, you still looked!)

Lee Benedict
Lee Benedict 11/21/13 - 07:31 pm
More to follow, thanks to John Barrow

It's a total shame what these bureaucrats did, can do, are doing, and apparently have the authority to do to America's veterans; the ones who made their jobs possible! Just wait until Obamacare really takes effect, and, with Harry Reid's power-grab this afternoon regarding filibuster rules, Obama can push any radical through the confirmation process. Something on this scale regarding Reid's move has not happened for more than 200 years.

1) Aren't Democrats the ones who claim to support minority rights? Well, they just squashed it in the US Senate. Just wait until enough people are fed up and see Obama and his agenda for what it is and oust many Democratic senators next year and ol' Harry lands in the minority pile. Reid will probably change the rules again before the GOP takes the senate's gavel knowing that the GOP will not change them back because they are not petty crybabies.
2) JOHN BARROW! He hid in his office with the door closed and locked the day of the vote in 2009. He refused to say whether or not he "supported" it until he knew whether it would pass; not coming out 100% against it on day one (thanks Paul Broun) is bad enough. John Barrow also claims to have voted with Republicans 20+ times in repealing Obamacare, or at least its individual mandate. KEEP DRIVING THIS POINT HOME, which is that he voted AGAINST the Republican measure to defund Obamacare. So, if he is "against" it as he claims, why vote to fund it? Copy and paste this to your wall. Keep to the facts and let Barrow squirm. He can say that he was a co-sponsor of the "keep your plan" bill, which is true, but...TOO LATE! He was playing politics and not being a public servant (thank you Paul Broun).
3) Rick Allen, John Stone, whomever is the nominee, rally behind him and drive the above FACTS home and keep driving and do not let Barrow off the hook.

kburough 11/21/13 - 08:46 pm
My Husband

My husband passed in May, he was a Disabled Vietnam Vet. The treatment he got at the VA was awful. I had to finally take him to Doctors hospital & was sent home with hospice. I could not get him in to see his primary doctor there. They knew he was in bad help. If he would have gotten the medical help he would not have went so soon. They even ignored that he was a DNR patient over a year ago.

It is bad when the men & women fight for the USA and then find out chemicals were dropped on them to cause medical problems but can not get the medical help they need. It is so awful.

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