‘Safety stand down’ continues at Clarksburg VA; attorney says facility changes are overdue
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Currently, only COVID-19 and critical care patients are admitted to the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Harrison County. This is part of a “security standstill” following the killings of at least eight veterans between 2017 and 2018.
Other new patients have moved to nearby VA facilities and other hospital locations as the VA takes a number of steps to restore confidence in the Clarksburg facility after the VA Administrative Investigation Board reports on patient safety issues and site culture.
The changes will come with a full operations report from the VA Office of Inspector General that is pending.
Tony O’Dell, an attorney who represents survivors of many veterans who were given insulin that they didn’t need, said such steps were long overdue.
“We’re here two and a half years later, and they’re just really starting to make changes, and that’s just unacceptable,” O’Dell said during an appearance on MetroNews Monday. Talkline. “
Doctor Richard Stone, head of the Veterans Health Administration, announced the changes on December 24, 2020.
Starting next week, January 4th, Barbara Forsha, Associate Director of VA Pittsburgh Healthcare Systems, will take over as acting Medical Director of Clarksburg VA.
Forsha replaces Dr. Glenn Snider Jr., the director of the medical center.
In the past, Snider has defended the VA and blamed the deaths on a rogue employee.
But O’Dell said there were clear systemic problems that allowed this employee to repeatedly kill veterans.
“It was very easy for us to see from the start that this hospital has not recognized or identified their Sentinel events when there is an untoward death or inexplicable injury in the hospital which means they need to do an investigation the root cause, ”he said.
“You kind of finally realize it.”
Retraining on reporting urgent problems and on the chain of command was planned for employees.
Other measures included the appointment of a recently appointed doctor, an experienced hospital doctor in the community, as the hospital’s new inpatient director.
At the same time, a detailed nursing leadership team was brought into the facility.
“Hopefully trust will be returned to this facility because our veterans deserve it,” said O’Dell.
In February, a former nursing assistant, Reta Mays, 46, is due to be convicted of seven second-degree murders and one assault intended to commit murder.
Mays faces consecutive life sentences for seven homicides plus another 20 years for assault.
Earlier this year, Mays admitted in Clarksburg District Court that up to eight veterans had injected insulin that was not prescribed for them and that they did not need. Her confessions of guilt followed a two year investigation.
Officials found Mays shouldn’t have access to insulin.
“They put all these great guidelines and procedures in place, they just weren’t followed,” O’Dell said.
O’Dell said he believes the death toll could be higher than the eight victims identified in criminal charges against Mays. There have been nine confirmed deaths to date, and in addition to that number, he was working on eleven other potential cases.
Recently, O’Dell said his office had received Mays’ work schedule for comparison.
Tony O’Dell, attorney who represents a number of families whose loved ones were murdered by Reta Mays at the VA Hospital in Clarksburg, meets with @HoppyKercheval to discuss the changes announced for the VA. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/EitcVR341Y
– MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) December 28, 2020