The list of problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs keeps growing, and it’s not just at the federal level. Across many states, repeated lapses in administration and, frankly, judgment have led to serious medical complications in, and even the deaths of, veterans.
In Wisconsin, the story gets absolutely horrifying.
The Tomah VA says it’s in the process of notifying 592 veterans that they may be infected with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or HIV after they received care from one particular dental provider.
Acting Medical Center Director Victoria Brahm said the dentist was using his own equipment, then cleaning it and reusing it, which violates the VA’s regulations.
Holy crap. Holy crap.
That dentist has been removed from patient care and is now working in an administrative role.
So, yeah, guy could possibly have infected nearly SIX HUNDRED VETERANS with Hepatitis or HIV, so he should definitely get an administrative role while they sort this thing out.
“It was purposeful that he was violating VA regulations,” Brahm said. “During all of the orientation, he used all of our equipment. He used it appropriately, so it was very purposeful from what we found in our investigation that he knew exactly what he was doing, and preferred to use his own equipment against procedure.”
Wait wait wait wait. He did this knowing full well what the procedures were? And if he can practice and sort of medical procedures, he surely has to know the health risks involved.
Brahm told reporters that the Tomah VA has made improvements but still has others to make.
“We have clear evidence that we are moving forward and the people that remain here are very vested and here for the mission of taking care of veterans,” she said. “There are pockets of improvement that need to occur they still need to I’ll be honest, and we are aware of where they are and we are dealing with them as quickly as we can.”
This is horrific, and there is absolutely no excuse for what happened here. If a doctor in private practice did this, there would be lawsuits and arrests. When a government employee does it, they park him or her behind a desk while bureaucracy handles the little mishap.
This is why Donald Trump’s VA pick is going to be so vital. There has to be meaningful, structural reform as well as cultural reform. It isn’t just structurally bad, after all. It’s an entire departmental mentality that, hey, they’re just veterans so we don’t need to exert so much effort over them.
This requires someone with a deft hand at management and a perhaps low-key profile. Headlines don’t fix agencies of the government, clearly, as here we are with another abhorrent lapse and scandal at the VA despite two years of blaring headlines and even Presidential speeches about lapses in care, malfeasance, and deaths.
This isn’t the time for a friend of Trump’s friends or some politician who wants to increase their own brand. Putting a political loudmouth in the position may make headlines, but it won’t change department procedures, in-agency culture, or create meaningful reform from standards and practices on down to paperwork.
Make no mistake, this is a major management task, not to be delegated, parceled out, or used for face time on Fox News.