Veteran Care at VA Hospital Being Compromised? - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Veteran Care at VA Hospital Being Compromised?

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Wendy Damonte
Channel 2 News

Is veteran care at the local VA hospital being compromised because of executive leadership at the facility? The union says ‘absolutely.'

Now a federal organization is in town investigating numerous allegations brought to light by union members. Members of Congress, including Senator Harry Reid, are also getting involved.

In a 15 page letter given to several U.S. Congressmen and Senators, union leadership from the AFGE Local 2152 that represents employees of the local VA hospital in Reno, outlined specific complaints that they say are hurting patient care at the Reno VA.

"I've heard many instances of patient care being delayed because of this. I've had one surgeon talk to me about a specific case because of a patient who died because of interference of executive management," says AFGE Chief Steward Jeanine Swygman.

The Reno VA services 128,000 veterans in our area. The hospital was even recognized this year by the Joint Commission as one of the top hospitals in the country. But when it comes to working here, doctors say it's a difficult environment. Dr. John Maberry is an internist at the VA. He says he's the third doctor in his position in the last 2 years. He too is now leaving. He says his schedule is 17 to 22 days on... 7 days off.

"I'm leaving because I don't feel like we have a safe and appropriate schedule. I feel like it compromises patient safety. Ultimately I feel like it compromises myself as a physician and my medical license."

"Are the doctors and nurses here overworked?" asks Reno VA spokesman Darin Farr.

"That would be something we would wait to see if the OMI findings come out to say there's a staffing issue that needs to be addressed."

Farr is the spokesperson for the Reno VA. What he's referring to is the Office of the Medical Inspector. It's a federal organization within the Department of Veteran Affairs. Its members come investigate potential problems at VA's across the country. They've been in Reno twice this month.

"Does upper management here at the hospital feel patient care is the best available?"

"Absolutely. Our mission statement is to provide world class care to American heroes."

"Is this just a personality conflict? I mean workers don't like their bosses in a lot of places. Is this what it boils down to?"

"Absolutely not. What this boils down to is employees concerns for the veterans and lack of care and delay in care that they're seeing every single day."

Union leadership met with Senator Harry Reid's office in September to make him aware of their concerns.

In a statement issues for this story, Senator Reid says -

"We have been contacted by some constituents about concerns at the VA hospital. Nevada veterans deserve the best care available and we are working to find out the extent of any problems and determine how best to proceed."

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