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A Vietnam vet found covered in ant bites is forcing the Atlanta VA to finally reckon with years of dangerous practices
Dawn Brys got an early taste of the crisis unfolding at the largest Veterans Affairs hospital in the Southeast.
The Air Force vet said she went to the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur last year for surgery on a broken foot. But the doctor called it off because the surgical instruments hadn't been properly sterilized.
"The tools had condensation on them," recalled Brys, a 50-year-old Marietta resident. The doctor rescheduled it for the next day.
Now the 400-plus-bed hospital on Clairmont Road that serves about 120,000 military veterans is in a state of emergency. It suspended routine surgeries in late September after a string of incidents that exposed mismanagement and dangerous practices. It hopes to resume normal operations by early November as it struggles to retrain staff and hire new nurses.
The partial shutdown came about two weeks after Joel Marrable, a cancer patient in the same VA complex, was found covered with more than 100 ant bites by his daughter. Also in September, the hospital's canteen was temporarily closed for a pest investigation.
The mounting problems triggered a leadership shakeup Sept. 17, when regional director Leslie Wiggins was put on administrative leave. Dr. Arjay K. Dhawan, the regional medical director, was moved to administrative duties pending an investigation. Seven staff members were reassigned to non-patient care.
The only question for some military veterans and staff is why the VA waited so long. They say problems existed for years under Wiggins' leadership, but little was done.
The Department of Veterans Affairs refunded $400 million dollars to vets due to mistaken home loan funding fees, the VA announced on Tuesday.
The refunds were the result of a "multi-year internal review of millions of VA-backed home loans spanning almost two decades," the department said in a statement.
A former Veterans Affairs hospice nurse was arrested Wednesday for allegedly stealing morphine from her dying patients at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, in Bedford, Massachusetts.
This 100-year-old vet escaped a Nazi prison camp. Now he's at the center of a lawsuit over a Bible at his local VA
Herman "Herk" Streitburger was on his final bombing mission and due to go home when his plane was hit by German fighters over Hungary in 1944. He was captured and held as a prisoner of war, enduring starvation, forced marches and a harrowing escape.
Streitburger just turned 100 years old. That makes him a national treasure as well as a Granite State hero.
Streitburger, who lives in Bedford, gets around using a cane and remains active in POW groups and events. It was he who donated his family Bible to a POW "missing man" display at the VA Medical Center in Manchester, which prompted a federal First Amendment lawsuit.
And every year, he tells his World War II story to Manchester schoolchildren. It's a story worth retelling.
With the 'Tally Bill', vets could hold the VA accountable when medical malpractice occurs at the hands of a contractor
EXCLUSIVE: After the VA missed a spine-eating infection, a loophole kept him from suing. A new bill would change that for other vets
It's been three years since doctors misdiagnosed an infection that was devouring the spine of Marine Corps veteran Brian Tally.
It's been two years since his hopes for damages from the Department of Veterans Affairs were dashed when he was informed that the doctor who made the mistake was a contractor — and the statute of limitations for legal action against the care provider had passed just weeks before he got the news.
And it's been a little under a year since he drafted the first "Tally Bill," a piece of legislation that he and a handful of vets and advocates stitched together — before that first bill died quietly in Congress in Sept. 2018.
Now, Tally might finally have a chance for closure.