Concerns raised about central Iowa VA care facility

Allegations come after inspection of facility

Rod Boshart
Published: March 31 2014 | 5:10 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 10:23 am in

DES MOINES – Two U.S. senators from Iowa are calling on federal officials to investigate the Veterans Administration’s health care facility in central Iowa after hearing concerns about personnel at the center.

Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, urged continued oversight of management reforms at the health care facility in response to the findings of a Veterans Affairs Inspector General report they received.

“This situation is a good example of why it’s important for each agency to have an independent watchdog,” said Grassley. “The inspector general reviewed concerns presented from Iowans to their senators about a federal facility.

“The inspector general reviewed the concerns and made recommendations to fix identified problems,” Grassley added in a statement. “I hope the actions the VA has agreed to take in response to this report will lead to improved morale for VA employees at the Central Iowa VA Medical Center and ultimately better patient care.”

The VA Office of Inspector General Office of Healthcare Inspections conducted an inspection of the VA Central Iowa Health facility’s Primary and Specialty Care Services Line in June 2013, the senators said.

The inspector’s office made recommendations in the March 31 report dealing with “administrative irregularities, leadership lapses, and quality of care concerns” over the past two years at the Des Moines facility.

The multiple allegations included claims that a current Service Line Director was not qualified for the position, lacked the necessary leadership skills, did not select appropriate candidates for physician positions, and inappropriately performed skin biopsies.

In addition, growing discontent with facility leadership was causing high nursing staff turnover rates, and facility leadership had not addressed clinicians’ concerns regarding the resulting impact on patient care, personnel retention, staff morale, and the medical education mission, according to the report.

“Veterans in Iowa and around the country deserve access to the best possible health care, so a report of anything short of that kind of care at a VA medical center should be handled in a serious manner,” Harkin said in a statement.

“I appreciate that the VA responded to these concerns and issued recommendations for improving the center,” he added. “ I now look forward to working with Sen. Grassley to ensure Iowa’s veterans have access to the best possible care.”

The report can be found at the Web address.

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