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John Barrow wants hearing in Augusta on Charlie Norwood VA deaths

Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 11:53 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 12:22 AM
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U.S. Rep. John Barrow requested Tuesday that a congressional hearing be held at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta to help federal officials determine why three cancer patients died needlessly because of a lack of care in the hospital’s botched gastrointestinal program.

U.S. Rep. John Barrow requested Tuesday that a congressional hearing be held at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.  JIM BLAYLOCK/FILE
JIM BLAYLOCK/FILE
U.S. Rep. John Barrow requested Tuesday that a congressional hearing be held at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.

Barrow, D-Ga., submitted the request in a letter to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, a day after two veteran advocacy groups sought justice for the three patient deaths.

This week, the congressman said he plans to speak to the committee’s chairman and ranking members to discuss the issue.

He said he will meet with members of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to “get to the bottom of what happened, and ensure it does not happen again.”

“What happened at the Charlie Norwood VA is totally unacceptable,” said Barrow, an Augusta Democrat whose 12th District represents much of the region. “We have a responsibility to provide the best care to our nation’s veterans, and clearly, that did not happen. We must hold the personnel responsible for these missteps accountable, and I’m committed to ensuring veterans get the best care possible in the future.”

On Tuesday, Barrow said he met with Charlie Norwood Director Bob Hamilton in Augusta to discuss the steps they are taking to prevent these problems from happening in the future. In addition, the congressman has contacted Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki regarding the issue.

Health care administrators at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center admitted last week that the hospital botched its gastrointestinal program so badly that consultations were delayed unnecessarily for 5,100 veterans between 2011 and November 2012.

The medical center’s executive office has put the death toll at three cancer patients, but said no more are expected and that the backlog has been reduced to 540 unresolved consults after extra personnel and equipment were brought in for two to three months to improve the program.

On Monday, the list of veteran advocacy groups demanding answers grew.

The American Legion joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Uniformed Service Disability Retirees in criticizing the gastrointestinal clinic.

“We are outraged about what happened at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center,” Verna Jones, the director of the American Legion’s Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division said in a phone interview. “Our veterans deserve much better and we are greatly concerned about the treatment they received at the hospital. For some, it cost them their lives and that is unacceptable.”

Jones’ staff leads the legion’s “System Worth Saving” program, a 10-year-old task force comprised of regional and national health care experts from the American Legion that evaluates VA health-care quality at 12 to 15 medical centers per year.

The program has evaluated centers in Atlanta and Pittsburgh and Jones said once the task force sees an official report from Congress, it will decide what the next step is for the Charlie Norwood VA Center.

She said, though, that the program could possibly come to Augusta.

THE BACK STORY

CHARLIE NORWOOD VA MEDICAL CENTER WOES

BACKGROUND: Three cancer patients who were not seen in time by the overworked gastrointestinal program died between 2011 and November 2012 while in the course of receiving medical care at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

DEVELOPMENTS:

• On Monday, representatives from two veteran advocacy groups demanded justice for the three patients who died.

• On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. John Barrow requested a congressional hearing be held in Augusta.

FEDERAL ACTION: The House Committee of Veterans Affairs is investigating former director Rebecca Wiley as the possible central figure in the program’s downfall.

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bubbasauce
20573
Points
bubbasauce 11/27/13 - 03:48 am
12
5
Yes its time for Barrows re

Yes its time for Barrows re election bid.Time to act as if he cares. By the way, he does support Obamacare you know. He is making his rounds throughout the state politicking again.

nocnoc
38204
Points
nocnoc 11/27/13 - 07:45 am
7
4
I hear the DNC NEWS BITES coming down the tracks

Blame the RINO Sequester, - That Obama developed and wanted

Blame the Tea Party, - for trying spend $$$ in the proper areas besides Obamacare.

Blame Cruz. - for his early warning about Obamacare that have proven true.

and whatever they can find or makeup.

But if anyone checks the problem dates before agreeing with the DNC. Plus remember hospital building, care, planning, and admin operations take many months to occur.

This was an issue long before any of the above.

nocnoc
38204
Points
nocnoc 11/27/13 - 07:45 am
8
4
bubbasauce - I could not agree more

Re-Election seems to have a way of getting Mr. Barrow's the attention
every few years.

My own father died in a VA (downtown) because the doctors delayed and delayed surgery to a date strangely, that just happen to be the day after the MASTER'S ended.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 11/27/13 - 07:54 am
0
0
whatever his motives, the
Unpublished

whatever his motives, the spotlight needs to stay on the VA until it's fixed... not just a temporary band aid. My father went to the VA because he couldn't afford other insurance and they found a few things and gave him a surgery appointment months out. We convinced him to go to University for a consult and they admitted him immediately and operated the next day. The VA would have had another death on their hands that could have been prevented. I only go to them for maintenance issues and any emergency issues go somewhere else.

Willow Bailey
20579
Points
Willow Bailey 11/27/13 - 10:32 am
4
3
Nice move.

Why doesn't he do this all the time?

PrayN4U
270
Points
PrayN4U 11/27/13 - 11:16 am
5
5
Stick to the issues

Leave Obama out of this and stick to the issues. The lack of care for Veterans have been going on longer than Obama has been in the office. This is just the tip of the iceberg and if any one really care they will not stop until something is done, election year or not. sadly, Vets, the elderly and children seem to be dispensible. What a society we have!!!

carcraft
24036
Points
carcraft 11/27/13 - 11:59 am
6
4
PrayN4u The VA is a

PrayN4u The VA is a government run health care program correct? If the Federal Government has trouble running the VA what makes you think they can run THE ENTIRE US HEALTH CARE SYSTEM? Yes Obama and his attempt to manage the US health care system is relevant !

Bizkit
29123
Points
Bizkit 11/27/13 - 12:00 pm
5
2
Failure of another government

Failure of another government run program. The govt is incompetent to deal with these tasks is what we walk away with-oversight should have picked this up. And we are to trust the govt with any aspect of our health care-and especially our veterans. They use them like toy soldiers and discard them if they get damaged. So many of our youth today are gung-ho with service to our country (very different from my era of draft cards and draft dodgers of Vietnam) and this is how we treat them and those who served in past wars. Shameful.

carcraft
24036
Points
carcraft 11/27/13 - 12:01 pm
6
3
Correct me if I'm wrong but

Correct me if I'm wrong but has't the Obama Administration run the VA system for the last 5 years or is it still Bush's fault?

dichotomy
30357
Points
dichotomy 11/27/13 - 12:17 pm
7
1
And find out why Wiley was

And find out why Wiley was moved down here after she had already FAILED and created the same kind of mess at the hospital in Columbia. Why wasn't she fired back when issues at the Dorn VA hospital surfaced? Why did they leave her in place when it was discovered that the same "procedures" that she implemented here had already caused problems in Columbia. The level of service went downhill the minute she walked in the door down here.

justthefacts
20242
Points
justthefacts 11/27/13 - 01:20 pm
6
3
sadly, Vets, the elderly and children seem to be dispensible.

What do you expect when the President supports abortion and death panels?

Sweet son
9649
Points
Sweet son 11/27/13 - 02:21 pm
6
3
@bubbasauce and nocnoc

Both of you are right Barrow is getting all of the publicity he can for his re-election bid. Can you imagine he 'really' cares?

puppydog
212
Points
puppydog 11/27/13 - 06:22 pm
4
2
Barrow helped save the GRU ROTC program

Those of you asking why doesn't Barrow get involved in issues more often- don't forget, he just saved the GRU ROTC program so give him credit for that. He has done more than his predecessor.

puppydog
212
Points
puppydog 11/27/13 - 06:25 pm
5
0
Rebecca Wiley- why is she still employed in the Federal gov?

Why in the world does Rebecca Wiley still have a job with the Federal gov & the VA? There was an article in this newspaper recently that after she was booted out of the Augusta VA for incompetence, they transferred her to another VA hospital & now that program is suffering under her leadership also. If she were in the private sector, she would have been outright FIRED & shown the door a long time ago- deservedly so!

IBeDogGone
2871
Points
IBeDogGone 11/27/13 - 08:23 pm
3
2
I Support Veterans Healthcare

Government run services have pretty much failed in the last decade. I feel the Veterans that have earned their right to Healthcare and would be better served if this was contract to a private source. It would be cost effective and the level of care would improve.

When I was a child children whose parents did not have the resources to pay a doctor went to the County Health Department for a yearly wellness exam and their vacinations at no cost to the parents. If a health issue occured and the Health Department could not provide the level of care needed, the community went to work, Doctors provided care at little or no cost, pharmacies were willing to help out, churches got involved and we took care of the needy. People with means were able to give assistance because Doctors, Drug Stores and individuals were not taxed to death and they actually had disposable income. Then our government created Medicaid and Healthcare providers income has decreased, our taxes have gone up and the level of healthcare has decreased.

The Post Office was not a service that operated and was not a burden on tax payers until FedX and UPS began in the private sector. They have proven the service is better and at a lower cost than using the Post Office. This is sad but true, I have many friends that work for the Post Office or have retired from Postal Services. My mother was even a Post Mistress in the 60's, I appreciate the service they have provided but again this is a government run service that cost me money in taxes. I cannot tell you when I have mailed a package through the USPO.

I could go on and on ranting about government spending but I will stop for now.

NO I AM NOT AND WILL NEVER BE A DEMOCRAT!

Gage Creed
15617
Points
Gage Creed 11/28/13 - 11:28 am
4
1
Barrah...

I'm not John Barrah... and I don't approve his message

happychimer
15797
Points
happychimer 11/28/13 - 11:28 am
1
3
All of you talking about

All of you talking about Barrow not doing anything, you don't have your facts right. Check out John Barrow's website and see what he has done. I don't agree with him all the time, but he is working hard, and really cares about the people in his district.

Frank I
1158
Points
Frank I 11/28/13 - 02:39 pm
2
2
time to giddy up

for his dog and pony show..

carcraft
24036
Points
carcraft 11/28/13 - 07:02 pm
2
0
Unfortunately Barrow has a D

Unfortunately Barrow has a D after his name and I would hate to see Botox Beauty "we have to pass the law to see what's in it " Pilose speaker of the house ever again!

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