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DeFazio, Wyden press VA to investigate Roseburg, Eugene allegations

Rep. Peter DeFazio met with Veterans Administation officials about "recent investigations into claims of misconduct, mismanagement and degraded patient care at the VA Roseburg Healthcare System," the Springfield Democrat said in statement Thursday. (File/SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - Rep. Peter DeFazio met with Veterans Administration officials about "recent investigations into claims of misconduct, mismanagement and degraded patient care at the VA Roseburg Healthcare System," the Springfield Democrat said in statement Thursday.

Sen. Ron Wyden also met with the VA and issued a statement joining DeFazio in "pressing for an investigation into the troubling and longstanding allegations of substandard care, misconduct and mismanagement in VA’s Roseburg system."

Our country’s commitment to the veterans who have served so proudly demands they receive the best possible health care when they return home.
And that objective in turn depends on hardworking VA staff who provide that care getting the top-notch support they need for their lifesaving work.
These essential objectives are why I have joined Congressman DeFazio in pressing for an investigation into the troubling and longstanding allegations of substandard care, misconduct and mismanagement in VA’s Roseburg system.
At today’s meeting with VA officials to provide an update on their investigation, I heard that steps have been taken to improve care for veterans in VA’s Roseburg system. I have asked for follow-up on those steps and others that officials told us are forthcoming.
I will be bird-dogging this issue both to ensure what’s been done is succeeding -- and that what’s planned will make the VA’s Roseburg system a place worthy of the veterans who rely on it for quality health care.

Here is the complete text of DeFazio's statement:

This past fall, after receiving more than 200 messages from VA Roseburg Healthcare System (VARHS) employees documenting alarming claims of misconduct, mismanagement and degraded patient care at both the Eugene and Roseburg facilities, I demanded the VA initiate an investigation. As a result, the VA sent a team comprised of officials from the Office of the Medical Inspector (OMI) and the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP) to investigate these issues.
Today I met with senior VA leadership to receive a preliminary report on their investigations. During the briefing, the VA outlined a number of personnel and statutory changes that have been or will be implemented within the hospital system. While investigations are ongoing on a number of fronts, I pushed the team to provide the final public results and implement reform within weeks, not months.
Secretary Shulkin is directly engaged in the ongoing investigations and has committed to working closely with my office to address the numerous problems identified by the investigative team. Our shared goal is lasting, long-term, sustainable change at the VARHS—which I maintain should include new leadership.
The VARHS has suffered for years from mismanagement resulting in an inability to recruit and retain high-quality providers, which has seriously hindered patient care. This not the first crisis of management and patient care at VARHS, and previous short-term fixes have only compounded the problem. Oregon’s veterans and VARHS employees deserve lasting, meaningful change.

Last October, DeFazio announced that investigators from the Veterans Health Administration Office of Medical Inspector would be in Oregon to talk with employees in Roseburg and Eugene.

The VA has faced increased scrutiny, including a story by The New York Times about the VA in Roseburg. Local VA officials called the report "false."

“We appreciate the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection’s investigation, and Roseburg VA Health Care System is cooperating fully," Shanon L. Goodwin, Public Affairs Officer for the Roseburg VA said in a statement Thursday. "Secretary Shulkin has made it clear that VA will hold employees accountable when the facts demonstrate that they have failed to live up to the high standards veterans and taxpayers expect. That is exactly what we will do in this case. In order to protect the integrity of the investigation, we can’t comment further.”

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