St. Louis VA MC under the gun for health issues
February 08, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Todd Akin (MO-2), Chairman of Sea Power and Projection Forces on February 7, 2011, called on Eric Shinseki, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to initiate a full-review of the St. Louis VA Medical Center, John Cochran Division, following the suspension of surgeries because of yet another breach of sterilization protocols. At first limited to dental surgeries, the suspension later was called to include all surgeries.

In a letter to Shinseki, Akin referenced a series of irregular practices at the hospital and what he labeled its "dismal reputation of putting veteran's health at risk." The letter included the following:

"Until there is a serious, public reform of the St. Louis VAMC, including holding senior staff accountable, we cannot in good conscience at this time seek additional funding and support expanded programs at a VA medical center that does not perform its current mission. If John Cochran were a ship or a military unit, the commander would have already been relieved and a comprehensive Inspector General investigation would have been launched. Instead, you are telling the veterans of the greater St. Louis area that everything is under control, when they know full well that is not the case."

Akin revealed that his constituents repeatedly reported problems with the hospital during the past decade but that although improvements have been promised, "with few exceptions, none seem to materialize." He said that some veterans "now travel hours out of their way to seek treatment at other veteran's hospitals because they actually fear for their lives were they to return to John Cochran."

On its website St. Louis VMMC admits to having discovered two newly diagnosed cases of Hepatitus B and two cases of Hepatitus C. However, the hospital also claims that the discoveries "are not necessarily linked to any reusable medical equipment issues."

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