“We must determine how the VA allowed patient care to erode to the point where hundreds of patients in Dayton had to be tested for diseases due to exposure to blood-borne pathogens,” Brown said. “Establishing a regional taskforce will reassure our veterans that the VA remains dedicated to their care and patient safety while providing them with a seat at the table and the opportunity to participate in the improvement of the VA system.”
”Since learning of this outrageous occurrence at the Dayton VA, it’s become apparent that there is a larger issue at hand within this facility, the VISN 10 Network, and perhaps nationally. A regional taskforce will place a finer microscope on the VA and its culture, which has allowed this failure to occur. We owe it to our veterans to take every step necessary to ensure they get the care that they deserve and rightfully have earned,” said Turner.
This task force would review all of Veterans Integrated Service Network 10’s (VISN 10) facilities, activities, and services to help identify how procedural lapses allowed this situation to happen, and what measures can be taken to prevent similar scenarios moving forward. VISN 10 includes Ohio and portions of Indiana and Kentucky.
Brown and Turner proposed that the task force include health care professionals, VA medical professionals and employees, veterans, and leaders in the veteran community to perform a collaborative, tough, and fair look at VISN 10 to provide invaluable insight to the VA and policy makers. The task force’s findings would improve VISN 10’s services at all VA facilities.
Brown and Turner have been working with the Dayton VA, Sec. Shinseki, and the Senate and House Veterans Committees since first learning of allegations of unhygienic practices at the Dayton VA Health Clinic. Last month, Brown called for a thorough organizational review by the VA and concrete changes at the Dayton VA Medical Center. This call follows a recent visit by Congressman Turner and House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller to the Dayton facility.
In February, the Dayton VAMC issued a report indicating that several employees may have known for years that a practitioner was using unhygienic practices— exposing veterans to blood-borne pathogens through non-sterilized dental equipment. In response, Brown joined U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (OH-03) in writing to Shinseki to request increased oversight and a more expansive investigation.
Brown wrote to Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, to request a hearing to investigate this situation and identify preventive actions that would ensure that a situation like this never arises again. Turner has also written to the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee requesting hearings into the issues surrounding the VA’s Dental safety practices nationally. Last year, Brown sent a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Sec. Eric Shinseki urging the VA to investigate the complaints at the VAMC. Brown and Turner have spoken with Shinseki and VAMC officials repeatedly urging them to correct any issues and install effective leadership.