Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Vets Rip VA In Meeting Over 'Impaired' Doctor's Misdiagnoses
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Confusion, anger, disappointment and even tears filled an auditorium at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks on Monday as veterans sought answers about a doctor that the hospital alleged last month was working while "impaired."
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced in June that it would review 33,000 cases that the pathologist had a role in overseeing after he was allegedly found impaired in October 2017 and then fired in April 2018.
An initial review of 900 cases found seven misdiagnoses.
The town hall drew more than 150 veterans and family members who asked questions of Kelvin Parks, interim medical center director, who opened the meeting by expressing regret and sympathy to those affected, and their families.
"To my fellow veterans, I say, 'I'm sorry that this has happened,'" said Parks, who was named interim director in January. "This is something that I own, VHSO as a family owns, and we will get it right. We will get you your answers that you deserve."
No new misdiagnoses
As of Monday, 3,000 cases, or 9% of the total, had been reviewed. No more misdiagnoses have been found, and Parks said the full review should take about six months to complete. Half of the cases will be reviewed by VA doctors at other clinics and hospitals, and the other half will be reviewed by doctors at academic affiliates, which Parks said should begin working within the next two weeks.
As the barrage of questions from the crowd kept coming, one theme emerged: How did this happen, and what's being done to ensure it doesn't happen again? Some of those who spoke also questioned whether VA officials were telling veterans and the public everything they knew about the pathologist, and what the VA knew.
Parks said there was a "vulnerability" in the internal case review process that sometimes allowed supervisors to review their own cases. Moving forward, the hospital will have someone from the quality control department manage and oversee all case reviews.
While the hospital has not disclosed the name of the pathologist, The Associated Press reported Monday that the doctor is Robert Morris Levy, who has denied being impaired on duty and said the hospital fired him for a DUI that was eventually dismissed.
'It gets to you'
U.S. Navy veteran Alan Reed, 54, said he was startled and extremely worried when he received a letter from the VA saying his cases were under a second review. He's had four biopsies for four different procedures.
He said he is is still waiting to find out if any of his cases were among those that were misdiagnosed and added that the process has taken a psychological toll on him.
"It gets to you," Reed said. "You can't stop thinking about it."
Despite the setback, Reed said he still has confidence in the VA and wants the Arkansas congressional delegation to step up and do something to fix it. Several members of the delegation, while not there themselves, sent representatives to monitor the meeting.
Kay Kitterman, 59, a U.S. Navy veteran originally from Neosho, Missouri, who now lives in Fayetteville, said she isn't affected by a case review but came to the town hall after hearing about it and wanting to meet with VA administrators and congressional representatives.
Kitterman said the biggest problem at the VA hospital is the complaint reporting structure, and worried that details were being covered up via a process that she dubbed an "underground basement."
Kitterman said, "The employees know a lot of things that go on but they are in fear of their jobs or retaliation against them if they speak up."
Changing that culture, Kitterman said, can only come through better leadership, policies and procedures.
"You need more accountability and oversight. There is zero oversight here," Kitterman said. "You need more people who are going to step up and have zero tolerance for bullying and harassment."
Asked if Parks can be that leader, Kitterman said: "That remains to be seen. I want him to be the man that will come in and fix this. He was brought into this mess to clean it up. I think if he really wants to enact real change, then he will listen to veterans and employees."
The town hall was also attended by former VA employees, including Juanita Harris, 56, who served in the U.S. Army for 20 years. She received a letter from the VA and still isn't sure which case of hers is being reviewed.
She worked in the hospital's pathology laboratory as a secretary from 2002-2010 and claimed she witnessed improper procedures. After Monday's town hall, she said her confidence in the hospital isn't any higher.
"I'm not feeling any better," Harris said. "Would you want your family coming to a VA facility for a surgical result with a history of this one?"
©2018 The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.)
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The USS Eagle 56 was only five miles off the coast of Maine when it exploded.
The World War I-era patrol boat split in half, then slipped beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. The Eagle 56 had been carrying a crew of 62. Rescuers pulled 13 survivors from the water that day. It was April 23, 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany.
The U.S. Navy classified the disaster as an accident, attributing the sinking to a blast in the boiler room. In 2001, that ruling was changed to reflect the sinking as a deliberate act of war, perpetuated by German submarine U-853, a u-boat belonging to Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.
Still, despite the Navy's effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding the sinking, the Eagle 56 lingered as a mystery. The ship had sunk relatively close to shore, but efforts to locate the wreck were futile for decades. No one could find the Eagle 56, a small patrol ship that had come so close to making it back home.
Then, a group of friends and amateur divers decided to try to find the wreck in 2014. After years of fruitless dives and intensive research, New England-based Nomad Exploration Team successfully located the Eagle 56 in June 2018.
Business Insider spoke to two crew members — meat truck driver Jeff Goodreau and Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer Donald Ferrara — about their discovery.
These CIA officers were the first US boots on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11 — and one was 'Marine Todd'
Before the 5th Special Forces Group's Operational Detachment Alpha 595, before 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment's MH-47E Chinooks, and before the Air Force combat controllers, there were a handful of CIA officers and a buttload of cash.
The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.
Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."
That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.
Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.
"Shoots like a carbine, holsters like a pistol." That's the pitch behind the new Flux Defense system designed to transform the Army's brand new sidearm into a personal defense weapon.
Sometimes a joke just doesn't work.
For example, the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service tweeted and subsequently deleted a Gilbert Gottfried-esque misfire about the "Storm Area 51" movement.
On Friday DVIDSHUB tweeted a picture of a B-2 bomber on the flight line with a formation of airmen in front of it along with the caption: "The last thing #Millenials will see if they attempt the #area51raid today."