VA Congressional Hearings Announced

Post date: Apr 27, 2011 9:42:17 PM

St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - News Channel 5's I-Team has confirmed Congressional hearings will open Tuesday in Washington to examine problems at the St. Louis VA as well veteran centers in Miami and Dayton.

The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs calls the hearing "Sacred Obligation: Restoring Veteran Trust and Patient Safety." Sources tell the I-Team that the witness list may include Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as representatives from the Inspector General's office and the General Accounting Office.

The I-Team has reported extensively about a series of issues at the St. Louis VA, including the closure of its surgery and dental centers in February after an employee identified spots on surgical trays. The center re-opened a month later after multiple investigations were unable to determine a source for metallic corrosion.

"Closing the surgical suites prevented any patient harm and I'm proud our staff knew to stand up for patient safety," said Rima Nelson, director of the St. Louis VA. "We are always focused on patient safety, and now we are opening back up, fully confident we are providing our Veterans the quality care they earned."

In March, Missouri Congressman Russ Carnahan requested congressional hearings into the St. Louis VA.

"Our veterans deserve the best quality care available, period. It shouldn't matter whether they live in St. Louis, or Dayton, or anywhere else," Carnahan said Wednesday. "My focus is on finding solutions that ensure veterans here in St. Louis receive the same top quality care that the VA provides elsewhere in the country, and I hope this hearing helps us take another solid step toward that goal."

In Ohio, Republican Rep. Mike Turner has been pressing for more information as well. At the Dayton VA Center, hundreds of veterans have been tested for potential infections after treatment there by a dentist who allegedly failed to change latex gloves or sterilize instruments between patients for 18 years.