Arlington, VA – Nearly 600 veterans are at risk for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV after being treated at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility in Tomah, Wisconsin. The VA announced that a dentist at the facility was using tools that had not be sterilized properly.
According to reports, the dentist was using his own equipment to treat patients for an entire year before being found out. VA policy states that dentists are to use facility equipment and that bits be disposed after one use, however the dentist in question was not following this policy. The doctor, who has not been identified, has not been fired, but instead has been moved from patient care to an administrative role.
Patients are now being contacted and informed that they may receive free testing for possible infection.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Executive Director Mark Lucas issued the following statement:
“After years of scandal at Tomah, you would think officials there would ensure they were hiring ethical employees and getting rid of those who aren’t. Instead, the Tomah VA is apparently retaining doctors who knowingly violate regulations and put hundreds of veterans’ lives at risk. This kind of incident isn’t isolated to the Tomah VA. It seems like hardly a week goes by without a new report about how myriad VAs across the country are failing veterans. Congress can prevent tragedies like this by passing strong accountability measures that will drive employees to be careful, top performers. Right now, incentives to follow the rules aren’t in place at the VA.”
CVA supports the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016, which would restore accountability at the VA by expediting the removal of problem employees, increasing the power of the VA Secretary to remove problem employees, and preventing bonuses for senior executives for the next five years.
The facility has been at the center of scandals involving deaths of veterans whose family members claim they were turned away from the VA for care. In addition, it is the scene of a massive scandal in which veterans were over-prescribed narcotics, earning the facility the nickname “Candy Land.”