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Congressional Delegation Makes Oversight Visit

8:48 PM, Jan 6, 2014   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Members of congress are looking for answers in nine preventable deaths linked to delays at veterans' hospitals in Columbia and Augusta, Georgia.

The House Veterans' Affairs Committee found a backlog of nearly 3,000 gastroenterology consults here in the capitol city.

Florida Congressman Jeff Miller, chairman of the committee wants to make sure changes come to prevent veterans from losing their lives unnecessarily. He made an oversight visit to Dorn Monday.

"There has to be consequences when people make mistakes, especially when it's a repeated mistake that happens over and over again. Unfortunately, I see within VA, a pattern of moving people around within the system," said Florida.

Miller, a Republican, says it could be a coincidence that issues related to gastroenterology consults followed Dorn's former leader from her post in Augusta to South Carolina, but he certainly believes there was a problem with leadership.

He says he has requested information on how Dorn spent $1 million that was supposed to help the backlog, a problem that he says got worse after it was discovered.

"The leadership here says that all of the million dollars was in fact used to correct the problem. The Office of the Inspector General disputes that. They say that there was only $250,000 of that money that was used," said Miller.

South Carolina Congressmen Mick Mulvaney and Joe Wilson joined Miller for an executive briefing at Dorn.

Mulvaney says, as of right now, the backlog effectively stands at zero.

"If you are a vet who needs GI services here today, they are ready to serve you. We're still gonna spend some time figuring out what happened, why it happened, but the most immediate pressing thing from a vets perspective is they can be served here today if they need it," said Mulvaney.

Chairman Miller also met with congressmen from Georgia at the veterans' facility in Augusta.

The congress members also spoke about Dorn's third reported closure of its operating rooms.

Once again, Dorn officials cite particulate matter as the reason behind the shut down.

Dorn previously closed its operating rooms back on October 18, again on December 5 and most recently on January 2.

Hospital leaders spoke with the congressmen in an executive briefing saying engineers were working on the problem.

"The operating rooms will not open, until they are absolutely sure that the situation is resolved. What will that mean? That means that veterans are gonna have to go to other facilities," said Miller.

He says he hopes to hold a congressional hearing in Washington D.C. on the issues similar to those at Dorn facing veterans' hospitals across the country.

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