Another controversy in a long list of VA hospital scandals.
Veterans at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital have demanded action to clean the black mold in their housing complex, which has built up for the past 10 months.
From Fox News:
Veterans Affairs documents indicate officials at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital knew about the black mold infestation in August 2015 but conducted no testing until mid-April 2016 and have yet to clean up the problem – though they are promising to act soon. The mold is contained in two rooms of the Residential Care Facility (RCF), a separate building housing 30 residents for indefinite stays.
“I was going by the hallway and the door was open. The back wall was all moldy black,” 81-year-old resident Raymond Shibek told FoxNews.com. “I went and told the director of nursing. She said, ‘How did you see that?’ I said, ‘The door was open.’ She said, ‘You weren’t supposed to see that.’”
Shibek said the mold covered an entire wall measuring roughly 10 feet-by-10 feet.
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) May 19, 2016
Resident Dan James said the staff knew about the mold, but only began taking steps when the veterans “started getting aggressive about it.” Fox News continued:
The mold was first discovered by a maintenance worker who saw a black substance on the wall behind the lockers, said resident Charles Scott, 26.
It was then that the residents began an odyssey to have the rooms sealed off and the mold removed not only from the locker room, but a nearby storage and maintenance room, Scott said.
“We are really worried about this, you have a lot of people with respiratory illnesses,” Scott said. “Another VA hospital had Legionnaire’s Disease and a bunch of people died. How do we know that won’t happen to us?”
The veterans do not know when the mold began to grow, but told Fox News that many “patients have fallen ill, even died, over the past years.” They could not confirm if the mold caused any of it.
Rita Young, the hospital’s chief of Safety and Emergency Management Services, sent a memo to the union on March 4 updating them on the mold. She told them “the drywall in two rooms contained ‘black mold’ caused by a leak pipe that has been repaired.” The VA officials asked for a “hazardous material abatement” the following day.
Residents sent a letter to Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) in April, demanding help from Congress, especially since he chairs the Senate Appropriations VA subcommittee. He shot a letter to the VA supervisor:
“The saddest part about this work is that there seems to be no bottom – each time we discover a problem, there always seems to be a cover-up, instances of willful incompetence, and/or another problem right around the corner.”
The same VA hospital faced allegations of cockroaches in the meals for the patients. Health inspectors raided the hospital for a day where they “found outdated food, food that was not labeled correctly or missing labels, and overwhelming filth.”
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