ST. LOUIS - Vice President Joe Biden arrives in St. Louis Monday, while the acting head of the VA Sloan Gibson arrives Tuesday to speak at the 115th VFW's national convention.
This all come as a new report shows shoddy VA care led to more than 500 injuries or deaths last year. The head of the House Veteran's Affairs Committee, Rep. Jeff Miller (R – Florida) sent out the information first reported in the Washington Free Beacon.
The data collected through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show last year and for the first half of this year, two people at the St. Louis VA were gravely injured or died as a result of the care they received. It shows one person died or was gravely injured in Kansas City, three people in Poplar Bluff and three in Marion, Illinois.
A spokesperson for the St. Louis VA emailed the following statement: "It is an extremely unfortunate situation when adverse events happen here and at other medical facilities. As you know, we cannot go into specifics regarding the cases you are questioning. However, it is important to note that it is our policy to fully disclose errors, adverse events and unanticipated outcomes promptly.
When an adverse event occurs our priority is to first address the patient's immediate health care needs and then institute a review to collect all pertinent information. Our staff communicates this information directly with the Veteran/family member in an honest, compassionate manner as soon as possible after an adverse event or poor outcome occurs.
Our providers work diligently to provide excellent healthcare. On the occasions when we fall below that standard, our leadership and staff recognizes the seriousness of these unfortunate situations and takes steps to prevent it from happening again.
Our primary focus is on the safety and care of our Veterans – keeping them informed, providing the care they earned, and ensuring the best quality care.
In the meantime, Missouri Republican Rep. Ann Wagner took a different tone.
"Our veterans deserve the highest level of care which they have earned through their valor and military service. This report of over 500 grievous injuries or deaths should shake the collective consciousness of our nation, and given the VA's corrosive culture and punishment of those who courageously speak up, the number of affected veterans may even be higher," she said.
"Our nation's veterans should never suffer from gross incompetence and malpractice. Rest assured we will raise this issue next week with acting VA Secretary Gibson. Until leaders at the VA deal with this systematic lack of accountability – our nation's heroes will continue to suffer. No amount of money will ever replace leadership and accountability. As a mother of a son serving his country in the 101st Airborne – I will not rest until our nation's heroes receive the care they deserve."