Manchester VA

Peter Biello / NHPR

Congresswoman Annie Kuster says VA Secretary David Shulkin must immediately address allegations related to official travel.

In an audit by the VA Office of Inspector General, Shulkin is found to have improperly accepted Wimbledon tennis tickets and gone on an 11-day European trip with his wife that mixed business and sightseeing at taxpayer expense.

A Troubled Investigation Into The Manchester VA

Jan 30, 2018
Peter Biello

The Department of Veterans Affairs launched an investigation into allegations of substandard care at the Manchester VA last year, after whistleblowers from the hospital went to the Boston Globe's Spotlight team.

Now, a new report says that the investigation ignored many of the complaints leveled by the whistleblowers, and at least one physician who was accused of poor care has found a job working with veterans elsewhere. We talk with Peter Biello, reporter and host of All Things Considered for NHPR, about the latest. 

This segment will air live from 9:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 31st, and again at 7:40 p.m. The audio will be available shortly after 10 a.m.

Peter Biello / NHPR

It’s been nearly six months since problems at the Manchester VA made national headlines.

Whistleblowers came forward with accusations of dangerous delays in care and unsanitary conditions. A task force formed in the wake of those accusations has been meeting to figure out the best way to deliver care for New Hampshire veterans.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello who attended a meeting of the task force yesterday.


www.nhbedbugs.org

Update: The Urgent care clinic was reopened Thursday afternoon, following the closure Wednesday, the VA reports.

-------------

The Manchester VA's urgent care clinic was closed Wednesday after the discovery of bed bugs.

Patients were sent away after the bugs were found in the waiting room and in one exam room.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Department of Veterans Affairs is asking military veterans from New Hampshire to provide feedback on the future of VA health care in the state.

The survey asks veterans about how they would prefer to receive VA services. It also asks about the impact of combining existing VA clinics in Somersworth and Portsmouth into a larger clinic in Dover.

Peter Biello / NHPR

A group studying the future of healthcare for New Hampshire's veterans meets Monday, and one key figure will not attend.

Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith, director of the New England VA system, is voluntarily stepping away from the task force.

This comes months after he was removed as its co-chair. He's been an informal advisor since then.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Manchester VA has partnered with Rochester's Frisbie Memorial Hospital to provide gastrointestinal procedures to veterans on New Hampshire's seacoast.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter made the announcement Thursday, calling it an important step toward making sure veterans can get the care they need locally.

Appointments will still be handled through the Manchester VA.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Manchester veterans' hospital will use a federal grant to give veterans access to yoga, meditation and other complementary health practices.

The program, called "Healing Into Wholeness" will start next spring. Participants will work with "Whole Health" coaches and peer support groups to create personal health inventories. Yoga, massage, biofeedback and other practices will be offered at the medical center or in other communities.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The task force looking at the future of VA health care for New Hampshire veterans wrapped up two days of meetings Thursday. For the most part, these meetings are calm deliberations. Task force members listen to presentations, ask questions, and discuss VA issues.

But a heated exchange at yesterday's meeting highlights the simmering tensions between VA whistleblowers, who went public with their concerns, and VA leadership.

Peter Biello / NHPR

 

A top regional official at the Department of Veterans Affairs remains involved with a task force looking at the future of the Manchester VA - despite having been removed from his role as co-chair and member of that task force.

Regional VA director Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith was removed because of concerns raised by the state's congressional delegation and VA whistleblowers, who say he bears some responsibility for what they're calling harmful delays in care to veterans.

Peter Biello / NHPR

A task force looking at the future of health care for New Hampshire veterans wrapped up a two-day meeting on Wednesday. The task force was created to take the long-view on how veterans get their care from the Manchester VA, which has been embroiled in scandal since the summer. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello who attended the meetings.


Peter Biello / NHPR

A task force looking at the future of healthcare for military veterans in New Hampshire kicked off the first part of a two-day meeting Tuesday with a look at mental health, surgery, women vets, and a VA culture change. That meeting continued Wednesday with examinations of primary care, rehabilitation, and geriatric and extended care services. 

Peter Biello / NHPR

The task force looking at the future of the Manchester VA Medical Center has a new co-chair.

Dr. Jennifer Lee is Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the VA. She replaces Michael Mayo-Smith as co-chair. Initially on Monday, the VA removed him as only from his role as co-chair. A statement released by the VA late Tuesday indicated he is no longer a member of the task force.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The Manchester VA is responding to criticism about the medical center's women's clinic. The clinic is currently on the 6th floor, accessible by a flight of stairs or an elevator.

A report on NHPR described how women who have suffered military sexual trauma can find riding in that elevator with men stressful.

New Hampshire's congressional delegation is calling for improved facilities for women who receive care at the only veterans' hospital in the state.

The Democratic delegation says the current women's health clinic on the sixth floor of the Manchester VA Medical Center was damaged during a flood in July. They want to make sure women receive care in an appropriate setting during the rebuilding period.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: October 6, 2017

Oct 5, 2017

Sen. Maggie Hassan announced she is helping to introduce legislation designed to prevent modifications that allow for the rapid fire of semi-automatic weapons. One of the Manchester VA whistleblowers has announced he will challenge Democrat Annie Kuster in New Hampshire's second district as a Republican. And Granite Staters fill more than 20 trucks with supplies for Puerto Rico, thanks to a N.H. state house drive that exceeded expectations.


Peter Biello / NHPR

One of the dozen Manchester VA whistleblowers has announced his candidacy for Congress.

Stewart Levenson says he will challenge Democrat Annie Kuster in New Hampshire's second district as a Republican.

He and other doctors came forward last summer with allegations of leadership failures at the Manchester VA that resulted in patient harm. 

Peter Biello / NHPR

When a pipe burst at the Manchester VA Medical Center last July, the ensuing flood ruined spaces where veterans meet their doctors. One of those spaces was dedicated to women's health. Now, as the VA rebuilds itself, some see an opportunity to improve the experience for women veterans.

Before July's flood, to get to the women's health clinic at the Manchester VA, women needed to walk through the front door, climb a flight of stairs to the elevator, and ride it up to the sixth floor.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Members of New Hampshire's congressional delegation are again pushing for a full-service veterans hospital.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has said that a task force he appointed would develop a plan to provide "full services" in New Hampshire.

But Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan and others in the delegation worry the VA is backing away from that plan.

A subsequent announcement on the task force emphasizes the hospital should "best meet the needs" of the state's veterans.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: September 22, 2017

Sep 22, 2017

The Graham-Cassidy healthcare proposal receives mixed response in the Granite State. Community college officials are grilled by New Hampshire lawmakers concerned about a recent audit.  And V.A. whistle blowers raise concerns about continued problems at the facility.


"The Vietnam War" documentary

   

The Manchester VA is offering drop-in sessions for New Hampshire Vietnam veterans who are emotionally impacted by a documentary on the Vietnam War. The 10-part series by filmmaker Ken Burns is now airing on PBS.

New Hampshire Representative Steve Shurtleff of Concord served in Vietnam and says for many Vietnam vets, the wounds are still fresh.

Shurtleff served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army Military Police from July 1967 to July 1968. He recently watched a preview of "The Vietnam War" at the Red River Theatres. He says it brought back a lot of memories.

 

The Manchester VA Medical Center has appointed a 12-member task force to make recommendations on the future of New Hampshire’s only veterans hospital.

The appointments were the latest step toward reform since the Boston Globe reported in July on a whistleblower complaint, which described a fly-infested operating room, surgical instruments that weren’t always sterilized and patients whose conditions were ignored.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan is planning to discuss her efforts to strengthen the state's community-based mental health system at this year's Manchester VA Medical Center's mental health summit.

Attendees also will be spending Tuesday discussing the eradication of veteran suicides while addressing access to health care in specialty populations.

Specialty topics will include substance abuse, aging, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and women veterans.

The summit is being held at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester.

Peter Biello / NHPR

As the Manchester VA Medical Center continues to recover from catastrophic flooding, allegations of dangerous delays in veterans’ care, and unsanitary conditions, VA officials and a dozen whistleblowers are trying to chart the future of veterans’ healthcare in New Hampshire. It’s not clear what that will look like.

Peter Biello / NHPR

An employee of the Manchester VA Medical Center says his bosses have retaliated against him for speaking to investigators about problems with veterans' dental care and the Veterans Choice Program.

Gary Von George worked as the Business Office Manager at the Manchester VA. He says he tried to resolve several issues internally.

But he says after Manchester VA leaders learned he'd spoken to the VA's Office of Medical Inspector, he was moved to a different role.

Peter Biello / NHPR

A task force created to look at the future of the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center is taking shape. 

The task force was formed in response to whistleblower allegations of unsanitary and unsafe conditions at the medical center. Whistleblower Erik Funk, a cardiologist, was invited to serve on the task force - but he is the only one.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu has made it easier for veterans to get medical care outside the Manchester VA hospital, something made necessary because of ongoing damages from a recent pipe burst at the facility.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Two high-ranking officials removed from the Manchester VA medical center last month  have been reassigned to positions at the VA New England Healthcare System in Bedford, Massachusetts. 

Peter Biello / NHPR

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has removed a third top official from the Manchester VA.

Secretary Shulkin has removed Carol Williams, the medical center's director of nursing and patient care services. It's a move doctors who blew the whistle on problems with the Manchester VA had been calling for.