CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito announced changes Thursday being made by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center, including a change in leadership.
The actions come as a response to an administration investigation board’s report on patient safety issues and culture at the Clarksburg VA, according to a news release from Capito.
The changes that were announced include:
* Detailing Clarksburg VA Medical Center’s director and associate director for patient care services to administrative duties in Veterans Integrated Service Network 5, pending a review of the facility’s quality and safety environment.
* Associate Director Terry Massey will serve as the VA medical center’s acting Medical Center Director until January 4, 2021. Then VA Pittsburg Healthcare System Deputy Director Barbara L. Forsha will take over as the director.
* Instituting a safety stand down during which the VA medical center will not accept new patients except for COVID-19 and intensive care patients.
* A recently hired physician who was an experienced hospitalist in the community has become the VA medical center’s inpatient director of hospitalists and a detailed nursing leadership team is being brought into the facility.
* Retraining all personnel involved in reporting urgent issues throughout the chain of command. The incoming leadership team will assess the amount and level of training needed and it will be conducted throughout the facility over a period of time to ensure continuity of operations and care.
"Our veterans should always feel safe and cared for at our VA hospitals,” Capito said in a statement. “These leadership changes announced today were absolutely necessary given the unacceptable problems that occurred at the Clarksburg VAMC. While this is a sign of progress, there are still many questions that need to be addressed, and I’m committed to making sure that happens. I commend the VA for making these necessary changes and I look forward to more actions to further improve operations and care at the Clarksburg VAMC once the investigation has fully concluded. In the meantime, I remain committed to doing all I can to make sure our veterans receive the best possible care at all of our West Virginia VA’s and tragedies like this one never happen again."
Sen. Joe Manchin also released a statement, saying it was time for a change of leadership.
"It was time for a leadership change at the Clarksburg VAMC for the sake of our Veterans’ safety and well-being," he said. "The recently announced safety stand-down is further evidence that there are serious issues at the Clarksburg VA facility. My main concern continues to be monitoring the quality of care our Veterans receive at our West Virginia VAMCs. I hope this will be a fresh start for our Veterans and their loved ones. My heart goes out to these Veterans and their families who will be impacted in the middle of an already difficult holiday season."
A former nursing assistant at the VA medical center in Clarksburg, Reta Mays, admitted in July to purposely killing seven patients with fatal doses of insulin. Attorneys for Mays filed a motion asking that her sentencing be put off until mid-May because of concerns about the coronavirus. The sentencing is currently set for Feb. 18-19.