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June 30th, 2010
07:26 AM ET

Veterans Exposed to HIV & Hepatitis

Being back on US soil doesn't mean these Missouri veterans are safe.

John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis recently notified over 1,800 veterans that they may have been exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV after visiting the medical center for dental work, said Rep. Russ Carnahan.

The association chief of staff at the hospital, Dr. Gina Michael, says some dental technicians broke protocol by hand washing dental tools before putting them into cleaning machines. The hand washing began back in February 2009 and may have caused the tools to become contaminated.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that there's been a major medical mistake at a V.A. hospital. There was dirty colonoscopy equipment in Florida, letters sent to veterans saying they had Lou Gehrig’s disease when they didn’t, and radiation errors for colonoscopy patients in Philadelphia.

Are you or one of your loved ones a veteran? We want to hear about your experiences- good or bad- with your local V.A. hospital.

Post your comments here. Kyra will read some of them on the air during the 10am ET hour of the CNN Newsroom.


Filed under: Anchors • CNN Newsroom • Kyra Phillips • What the...?
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Butch Southgate

    There was just a mass infection from the Miami VA Hospital caused by dirty Colonoscopy equipment. The Military figures that around 2000 vets were infected or potentially infected from that instance.

    Now more veterans were exposed to HIV by the use of dirty dental equipment. I am a veteran. I find these problems as par for the course with the military. When you join, they tell you that you are expendable. The military constantly reminds us of that fact with their sub human health care. Isn't it odd that the people responsible for the potential deaths of all of these Veterans is never charged with a crime, or even held responsible?

    If we had a few doc's sentenced to death for their inpropriety perhaps we would have less "problems" with the VA hospitals :)

    June 30, 2010 at 8:11 am |
  2. Dale Duke

    I was watching the story on Robin this morning and I noticed that the spokesman for the VA talking about the possible HIV an Hepiatitis was smileing while being interviewed. I gues the VAS does nottake any of this very serious. I would hate to of gotten HIV and have the spokesperson smiling and saying oh, they are doing their best. What other shortcuts is the VA taking at our expense

    June 30, 2010 at 8:20 am |
  3. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    It's getting to dangerous to go to a military hospital anymore maybe the military should pay for private hospitals until the military gets there act together .

    June 30, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  4. Jay Yooper

    Something doesn't add up here... if they were cleaned by hand before cleaning by technicians, wouldn't that mean they are cleaner? Why would handwashing prevent proper sterilization? Unless they are only concerned about the technicians, which isn't the case.

    June 30, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  5. JR

    I am a service connected disabled vet. The VA has always provided me with the best care. I can only praise the VA. I use the VA in Houston and Conroe, Texas. If they were not here I would have been gone a long time ago.

    June 30, 2010 at 8:54 am |
  6. LizzP

    In many communities, there are no military dentists or physicians any longer. Instead, the VA contracts with civilians doctors and dentists to provide the services. I want to know if these were military dentists or contracted civilian dentists. I'll bet my money that they were civilians who knew these people were not their regular clientelle, so therefore didn't really give a rats you know what about safety and sanitary procedures.

    June 30, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  7. Mike McGrath

    Kyra
    We keep hearing how they have "shaped up" the VA. I am a 100% disabled combat veteran but last fall when I went to Florida and needed VA services. The Sunrise, FL clinic is in the Miani district.
    Sunrise had to take my picture and issue me THERE ID card. I also had to attend a indoctrination class for new vets to the Miami district.
    Kyra, I have been disabled and on VA compensation since I came back from Vietnam in 1970 !!
    Thanks
    Mike

    June 30, 2010 at 9:00 am |
  8. Harold. East Liverpool, oh

    I am a disabled combat Vietnam veteran. The VA health care system is very good. After I returned from Vietnam, it took the VA about 25 years for them to get my attention regarding my health condition. Since then, the VA has treated me with respect. I have no complaints, just thankful.

    June 30, 2010 at 9:04 am |
  9. Mike Galassi

    I have met several people within the VA health care system who have the right intentions, and are themselves veterans, and do a great job. However, there are larger systemic issues within the VA system that manifest itself in truly troubling instances such as this. When I returned from Iraq, I spent a fair amount of time in the VA hospital for various reasons. One day I went to the emergency room because of some severe symptoms and was placed behind probably 80 non-veterans who were using the VA hospital as a community health center to receive free treatment! These people weren't even veterans, and they were seen before me! Once I secured private health insurance, I never went back.

    It's a shame when veterans cannot take advantage of benefits to which they are entitled, and worse yet, when they do, endanger themselves by seeking treatment. My concern goes to those veterans who go use the VA system because they simply have no other options.

    June 30, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  10. RICH LANDRY

    Just listened to the CNN story about VA nightmares and wanted to share my Dad's experience at the San Diego VA hospital a number of years ago.

    My father who has since passed away was a disabled veteran of WWII.

    He had broken his two legs and ruptured his ear drum during an accident in Africa.

    My parents had just moved to San Diego from MA and my Dad wanted to get registered at the VA here so he could get his ear taken care of on a regular basis back East. So I took him to the VA Hospital in La Jolla. We were in the waiting room fo eleven and a half hours that day just to see some clerk who I'm sure was not even on the same shift as the one when we entered the hospital. After 50 years of going to the VA and putting up with their bull my Dad vowed that day to never set foot in a VA again.

    He was one of seven brothers who were in the military all at the same time during WWII which is a piece of my family history that I am very proud of so I do not hesitate to toot the horn for those men when I can.

    Love your channel.

    Rich Landry
    Escondido, CA

    June 30, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  11. RICH LANDRY

    Also on your story on the VA not cleaning the instruments properly, it was just in the news here in Escondido, CA that Palomar Hospital did the exact same thing. Something about using an expired solution or something.

    June 30, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  12. Kassy Devine

    Unfortunately, I am one of the veterans who received a certified letter from the VA yesterday. I called this morning to make my appointment & will be seen at 12:30 pm CST today; same day appt virtually unheard of in the VAMC system. The woman on the phone was very respectful & helpful.

    In defense of the John Cochran VAMC, St. Louis MO, I'd like to say that the quality of care & response time has improved exponentially in the 14 years I've been receiving care there, granted there are areas still needing improvement but overall it's gotten ALOT better. Don't get me wrong, I'm concerned about this possible exposure to HIV & Hep but my fears were somewhat alleviated by the following sentence included in my letter: "Even though it has been determined that there is a low risk of exposure to bacteria or viruses due to this error, we believe any risk to our Veterans is unacceptable."

    At this time, I believe I'll withhold my shock & outrage until after I get the results back from my blood tests.

    YN2(AW) Devine
    USN Retired

    June 30, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  13. Sue

    Just listened to Kyra with VA rep. I was just as frustrated as she was with his answer (though she handled it politely). It is hard to believe that doctors and nurses are intentionally mistreating their patients. More often than not, they are probably overwhelmed and underfunded and no one is solving their problems. It would be interesting to hear the hospital admistrators' reasons for the problems. My guess is that they are afraid to complain about it publicly. Either way, they fear loosing their jobs.

    June 30, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  14. Lenin Roa

    Well as I said before, Vets are not, and probadly will never be taking care of, because it is not in the interest of the US government. I am a vet, yes a Vet of two wars, and even though I have being going to the Va for 6 years now , I know that the Va is , and will never be the best of places to go when I am sick. I have being mistreated, I have being abused physically and mentally by the Va; I am sick , yes , I have: Diabetes, Asthma, sleep apnea, neuropathy( skeletical, and diabetes created) Deep depresion( Post traumatic stress Disorder) and about 15 more sickness specified in my Va record and I am so tired , tired of going to the Va for help and only finding that they DON"T care, and they do not. I just do not think the Va is ever going to help me , and I just think is sad.

    June 30, 2010 at 9:15 am |
  15. SpringWolf

    Even the average person in America knows that medical instruments must be cleaned in enclaves to ensure sterilization. This is more than incompetent and makes me wonder why after previous issues with instruments does any hospital have to set additional standards and policies. Are they risking the lives of our soldiers through cost cutting measures? Or are they really just this stupid?

    This is beyond unacceptable for a professional health organization, it's criminal! I hope there will be more than just congressional hearings. I hope there are criminal charges for exposing our service men and women to life threatening disease!

    Thanks to all our service people around the world, active and retired, for serving our Country.

    June 30, 2010 at 9:20 am |
  16. Catman1975

    I've got the same questions as Jay Yooper! When my wife worked for an OB/GYN all of their equipment went into an autoclave machine to sterilize it. The story says the tools were hand washed before being put into the cleaning machine. Isn't this the equivalent of washing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher? Yes, my cups may have been 'contaminated' by the greasy pan I cooked bacon in, but it was cleaned by being run through the dishwasher.

    I've seen tools come out of an autoclave before with 'material' still on them. My guess is that in February 2009, someone decided it would be a good idea to wash off the instruments so they didn't come out with bits of teeth still stuck to the instruments.

    June 30, 2010 at 9:21 am |
  17. Carol Luttjohann

    First I will say I am a social worker and that is my perspective on my dad's care (lack of) at VA in Topeka, KS.

    Highlights:
    Feb 2009 – Dad found a lump that was to be biopsied to see if it was cancerous. They referred him to Leavenworth for the biopsy as the person in Topeka was going to be on vacation. That meant two trips to Leavenworth (1 1/2 hours each way) and by the time it was scheuled for pre op and then the sugery, we could have had it done in Topeka. Chem started end of March – almost two months after initial visit for the lump.

    April 2009 – Dad was admitted to the hospital on a Sunday night. On Monday morning when I went to see him he was in tears. He had not wanted a medication they were trying to force him to take. The Social Worker had given him a Mini Mental Status Inventory – wrong thing to do for someone that is already agitated.

    Several more ER trips, having chemo, etc. for several months. Skip to Augsut approxmiately 16th ER trip. At that time Dad was not doing as well – chemo was draining him. Despite that the pre chemo test showed his heart as strong as someone half his age, his circulation was not good and he needed to be evaluated for oxygen. I had made that request July 25th approx. Still not done. So on the 16th of August the doctor said to me – Life expectancy is 75 and your dad is already 88. Just let him die in peace.

    Dad died August 24th due to heart failure caused by not having circulation due to his lack of oxygen.

    June 30, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  18. Shaun Orris

    Hi Kyra. I've been following your reporting since 2005, when I first heard you stand up for veterans and the problems of the VA. May I make a suggestion? Please dig deeper into the BVA and how they determine who should be service connected as handicapped for some reason due to war. Kyra, you have a special place in my heart for all you've done and will continue to do, and if I could hug you and thank you in person, it would be a moment I'll keep for the rest of my years. Love ya./

    June 30, 2010 at 9:33 am |
  19. Paul Redfield

    My care at the Minneapolis VA has been wonderful except for the Psyc. Dept. They are over loaded and have to retain staff who should be retired. I understand that this isn't just a VA problem and feel that their concern will cause them to do all they can to fix this.
    I can't say enough good about the other Dr.s, nurses and staff.
    They aren't perfect but do the best possiable!
    THANK YOU VA
    Paul

    June 30, 2010 at 9:33 am |
  20. Steven

    This is just crazy. What are we veterans supposed to to do? What will those who may be infected tell their loved ones. what about the wives and girlfriends of those who did actually get infected. someone needs to be help responsible and i dont mean a slap on the wrist and told to do better next time. and as for that J/A smiling while being interviewed thats just disrespectful and down right rude. That person should be injected with the hiv virus and then lets see how funny they think it is. I am disappointed and now very weary of treatment from a va facility. I want to see action here. not some of that lets wait a few weeks and everyone will forget about this.

    June 30, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  21. Ronald Hines

    Kyra – (June 30, 2010)
    I have received wonderful care at the Grand Rapids, Michigan, clinic.
    Chief of Staff, Andrew Ramsahoi, MD, operates a beautiful "ship"
    at this facility. In the many years that I have received care here, I have
    never heard any of the veterans say anything negative about their
    care. They are very prompt – the place sparkles, and everyone is
    so compassionate and caring. If they can't help you, they will find
    someone who can.
    I'm proud to have served in Korea. Thank you VA.
    Ron

    June 30, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  22. Ronald Lynn Booth, Ph.D

    I am a Veteran (Captain, Retired) that heard your stories today and all I could do was to Pray. Please continue to tell people what our brave young Men and Women face after they get back home. Obviously, it is not right.

    Best regards,

    Ron

    June 30, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  23. Patrick

    After being diagnosed with cancer in Iraq I had surgery and eventually returned to the US. When the symptoms returned I went to a VA hospital and spelled it out for them (my history, symptoms, and suspicions). I was given a cup to urinate in and no sooner had I returned with the cup I had been diagnosed and sent home. After that I went to a real medical facility where the Drs found tumors Hellen Keller could have seen. I was in surgery the next day and spent the next week recovering. I will never set foot in a VA hospital again.

    June 30, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  24. Stefan A. Upshaw

    I have been in the VA system since 1982, there was a time when the waits where long and it wasnt uncommon to hear us vets complaining and screaming at a doctor. In the last decade though the care has gotten so much better I feel proud to have the VA as a healthcare partner. I cannot believe what I'm hearing in the news and I'm shocked to say the least, Pleasedont let these isolated incedents sour your taste for the VA, they have come too far for that. These arent problems they are opportunities to do better. Be a part of our solution.

    June 30, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  25. Marian

    I am a disabled vet and since I have been going to the St. Louis VA ii've experienced some rude behaviors and have witnessed unprofessional behaviors from staff. The hospital could be cleaner and more sanitized even in common areas. It does not surprise me about this issue since I was assaulted by one of my on members of my company while serving. I could go on and on. Thank you for your support.

    June 30, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  26. Kelly

    I am a spouse of a 100% disabled veteran. I have received medical care at the Dayton OH VA. I have CHAMPVA insurance. I have had both good and bad experiences at the VA. I eventually had to go to a primary care DR. outside the VA, because I went to the VA prime care with the complaint of neck and upper back pain. I did receive an x-ray that they say shows "NO BROKEN DISK OR HERNIATIONS OF THE DISK." My prime care DR. did say my neck bones were straight not curved and this was caused from being overweight. I ask for a MRI to be done and she said they only do MRI if they are going to do surgery. So I went on in pain. Another instance I went in to the emergency room with swollen leggs swollen hands and swollen face with a rash some blood tests were run and was my blood tests were normal and was told to go home and see my prime care if this persisted. It did persist so I went to prime care DR. and she said this was probally from my being over weight and I needed to loose weight. I had inbetween my ER visit and my prime care visit obtained my medical records from that ER visit and seen some out of range results and ask my prime care about these and she said that I was dehydrated. Needless to say I was very ill and had to be brought in that day in a wheel chair. I was mad that the ER did not treat me for my dehydration or even tell me I was dehydrated. I again was shuffled out of there with no further investigation of my swollen leggs and red rash but was signed up for a weight loss program. My leggs became so painful I went to an outside physician and found out that I was having a toxic reaction to some prescribed medication. I also had a MRI outside the VA. I have a herniated disk in my neck at a critical place that caused te straightening of my neck. Needless to say I suffered for three months dehydrated and with toxic reaction to medication. My husband has problems too. The care you get there depends on the Physician you get. At the time now the Dayton VA cannot keep Quality DR. because they will not pay enough. I ask one DR. at the VA if they are holding back on testing she said "we are very budget consceince." The Cincinnati OH VA is much better than here but all of the Veterans should beable to expect the best care possible. This system of care is wrong by not expecting the docters to be the best available. But they look for the cheapest. It will only get worse.

    June 30, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  27. John

    Lets make it a requirement that all of congress & the senate use VA facilities for their healthcare needs......problems fixed.

    June 30, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  28. Hugo O.

    I'm not surprised with the actions of the VA. they don't care about veterans, I was homeless because of the VA. At the end of the day it's just a business. Thanks VA.

    June 30, 2010 at 10:10 am |
  29. Jim Davis

    Kyra,
    I am an inpatient veteran in the Homeless Veterans program at the James H. Quillen VAMC in Johnson City, TN. This facility was established in 1901 to serve veterans of the Civil and Spanish American wars. Currently, there are veterans from Korea, Vietnam, Irag, Afghanistan and other war and peace time veterans housed in a 250 bed domiciliary. The stories of my fellow veterans not receiving proper care are too numerous to mention. A majority of the staff are not here with the veterans interests in mind, they are here simply for a paycheck. Programs that assist homeless veterans, as well as those suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues are constantly being cutback. Veterans who have no place to go are being put back on the streets no better off than when they came here. It seems as if the only way doctors at htis facilty know how to fix a medical condition is to prescribe a pill. Veterans are herded through their respective programs like cattle and when we try to have complaints addressed, we have no where to go. A mojority of the people here cannot afford insurance so therefore we are forced to labor through a system that does not have our best interests in mind. The VA cannot faithfully fufill its mission to serve the number of existing veterans. What will our men and women currently serving around the globe do when it comes their time to use VA facilities? God help us.

    June 30, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  30. Randy Allison

    I would like to say that the mistake made by the VA isn't good at all and they are taking actions on this. I have had my share of battles with the VA , but I think that if you polled private facilities that there would probably be mistakes that outweigh this by a long shot.I am and have been using the VA health facilities for 20 years and I would like to say thank you for your help, and medical care.
    I realize that this is of little meaning to the ones affected by this mistake, but they are not all bad and for the most I think the VA is doing a great job.
    A Vietnam Vet, Randy Allison

    June 30, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  31. Alan Cummings

    Like everybody, I was horrified at the stories of contamination at VA Hospital facilities. But...in fairness....I want to add that the treatment I received at the Veterans Hospital in Seattle was warm and professional, and supportive. I felt ashamed that I was adding to their work when my medical problem was not service-connected. When I expressed that , the doctors I talked to said that I should not feel that I was taking advantage of the system. They said that vets with service connected medical problems were handled on a separate track and would not be affected by vets with peacetime problems. I feel nothing but warmth and affection for the VA doctors who helped me avoid death from colon cancer!

    June 30, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  32. OfCourseIm Depressed

    It took 17 years for me to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after being labeled a hypochondriac and unstable. An additional 11 years later, I've finally been diagnosed with "cartilage issues" . I was told not to be negative about what happened in the past and I need to focus on the future.

    At 45 I'm currently fighting for Vocational Rehab benefits (2 years counting). Maybe I'll be approved by the time I'm 80 if I live that long.

    By the way, I have college degreed staff with their Masters telling me I don't need a degree.

    June 30, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  33. Kristine

    I am a service disabled vet and my VA hospital in Lincoln NE is wonderful. I can not, however, say the same for my VA hospital in Boston that I first went to. They lost my disability paperwork and hid it from me for years. I am now having to start all over again and have permanent damage to my spine due to lack of treatment by the Army when I was injured and by the VA for those years. I am only 33 and am extremely limited to life's fun activities, with pain almost everyday. I wish all VA hospitals and clinics were caring and concerned about their vets.

    June 30, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  34. rose hackworth

    in 1983 i admitted my husband to john j pershing va hospital at poplar bluff ,mo. Doctors said he was having heart attack, placed him in icu for several days then came back to us saying gall bladder attack. Doctor operated take out gall bladder , no drain tubes to commom duct of liver. My husband got worst day by day. He was bright yellow. I physical took him out of the va to take him to another hopital where they were waiting for him. No one help me. When I got him to the other hospital, they discovered he had a collapsed lung, among other things. These doctors operated on him again (2 weeks after the 1st) and removed 1 gallon 1 qt of bile off his mid-section. My husband was in the hospital a total of 40 days. The only reason he is alive today , he was 33 years old and in good health.

    June 30, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  35. SUE

    I find the government as a whole needs to learn some morals which they lack. I serve 9 years HONERABLY and then when I file a claim THEY DENIED ME TELLING ME THERE IS NO RECORDS. The government the NPRC the national achieves lost my medical and personnel records and they send apology letters saying that they had them and misplace them. The VA has refused all claims because they say there are no records. I'm a women veteran and because they openly admitted loosing my records I have been waiting years. I have been denied and then I have asked when they deny me to put there denial paperwork the truth they are denying me because the government has lost my records, they still have not. So I'm still waiting. Now for some board because the government incompetence. One thing for all who serve make sure you make copies and get everythingbecause they will not. Do not trust when they say they will maintain your records "they will not", so now you’re have to carry a your M-16 and a copy machine. I heard there doing this intentally, Thank you CNN for covering many wrong. I even had to get letters from my commanders and supervisors I was told they are not medical authority. What has happen to me I would never let my children serve so they can go through what I have been going through, NO WAY. I have written my state politicians and nothing has happened. If the government loses your file, I’m sure if politician’s records were lost and was told the government lost his records he would not have to wait 3 years and more, he wouldn’t have to wait a day.

    June 30, 2010 at 10:36 am |
  36. Dan

    I served 20 years in the US Navy, proudly.
    My outstanding insurance allows me to see a civilian doctor, and if need be, a civilian hospital as well.
    I am VERY fortunate that I will not have to utilize the services of the VA facilities. You NEVER hear anything good about the VA, only horror stories.

    June 30, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  37. Randy

    This is not related to a VA hospital, but still relevant. My 85 year-old mother recently discovered (after reviewing her monthly bank statement) that her VA Widow's pension was terminated. The VA had incorrectly recorded her home address on their computer, and due to this error, she never received a document to sign verifying her eligibility status had not changed (she had not remarried, etc.) Another VA office subsequently sent her a "Delinquent Debt" bill for over $100,000 (this time to her correct address) for back payments since her last verification was executed.

    The VA acknowledged the error, but said she would have to "reapply" for her widow's pension, and it would take several months to process. The VA also said they would send the application forms, VA 21-886c, to her correct address, which they never sent. I downloaded the form and am in the process of helping her fill it out. This has created a great hardship for my mom. Her widow's pension was the major source of her income, and something she felt would have given her deceased husband, a KIA WW II veteran, comfort in knowing he was able to provide for her.

    The red tape is endless. Every time I call the VA, I just get busy signals; e-mails are not returned. I am turning to her US Congressman for assistance. Of course I am taking care of her, but this whole ordeal has been very, very hard on my mom. She would not be able to deal with the VA on her own. I wonder how many other "80 something" war-widows are in the same predicament.

    June 30, 2010 at 11:25 am |
  38. Ryan T.

    Reply to "Jay Yooper":
    Easy to think that "hand washing" coupled with a sterilization or "cleansing" process could make the instruments "cleaner." However, quite the opposite is true, many studies show that HIV (among other diseases) can grow (rapidly) once in contact with skin or gloves, and then to apply that "growing" infestation back to the instrument before sterilizing can make things worse, rather than help. This is why "hand washing" is typically not done, and why steam (among other chemicals) are applied alone. You would think (or hope) adequate training would be in place to inform those involved in the cleaning process, but budgets and so forth may prevent such training. At any rate, just some FYI for you.

    June 30, 2010 at 11:35 am |
  39. Pat W. O'Donoghue

    Dear Kyra,
    Many thanks for keeping this subject alive. I have never articulated my very strong feeling about our family's VA treatment before, and am glad to be allowed to do so now.
    My son-in-law was a Navy Seal. During his service, he contracted Hepatitis-C from a blood transfusion. The VA did acknowledge that he had this from service related injuries.
    However, when he was in his early fifties, he began having flashbacks, and eventually was unable to work due to this ever increasing stress. The VA never helped in any way, nor did they acknowledge this problem. He started using alcohol, as many veterans do, to alleviate his mental pain. His psychiatrist at the VA told him that if he could refrain from using alcohol for six months, he could get treatment. Well, if he had treatment, he could have refrained from alcohol abuse. He was unable to work for the last four years of his life, and died in his mid-fities of acute alcohol poisoning. He was buried in our private family cemetery with no help from the military. He was a wonderful human being: brilliant, funny, full of life, and we miss him terribly.
    I will forever blame the VA for devaluing his service to our country and for his unnecessary, early death. His name was Dale May, and we live in Little Rock, AR.
    – – – -Sincerely,

    Pat O'Donoghue

    June 30, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  40. Dewey Rhoades

    It may help if the personnel working on claims had also served in the military. A person that has never "been there" couldn't possibly understand the situations military personnel are put in.....

    June 30, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  41. Smith in Oregon

    As previously discovered in the abysmal conditions at Walter Reed's VA facility, this is precisely what happens when the Republican Goal of less federal government and no regulations occurs.

    How do the American people feel about less federal government and no regulation on Big Oil which directly resulted in the enormous Oil gushing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico?

    How do the American people feel about less federal government and no regulation on VA health practices which directly resulted in a large number of Veterans becoming infected with HIV, Hepatitis and other life threatening diseases?

    Vote Democratic straight across the board to help restore the needed federal regulations gutted by Bush-Cheney's Republican administration.

    June 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  42. LIZ CARTER in GEORGIA

    My husband is a disabled combat marine veteran of the VIETNAM WAR; who's also a former employee of a VA MEDICAL CENTER. He worked in many areas of the hospital including the business office and the operating room. He told me he saw many horrendous mistakes and cover-ups while he worked in the operating room. the one that's so gruesome to me is a diabetic veteran who was to have his left leg removed, came out of surgery with the right one amputated! They amputated the left one saying both were gangrenated!

    June 30, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  43. Michael

    This story is missing some facts. I don't see the correlation between handwashing dental tools before putting them into the autoclave, and how that can cause someone to be exposed to HIV. In response to Ryan T's comment, regarding proper autoclave protocol, I still dont understand how rinsing or washing dental tools before putting them into the enclave would cause more HIV (or other bugs) to be present on the tools. It just doesn't make sense. There are many details missing.

    June 30, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  44. Dennis McPherson

    My father is a WWII veteran that served in the South Pacific. He has 7 major battle stars and turned 18 at Iwo Jima. Last week he was admitted to the VA Medical Center in Grand Junction Colorado for edema.
    During his stay, dad was in a 3 bed room with no bathroom facilities. I had to toilet my father in a bathroom down the hall. (Our call for a nurse went unanswered) I don't mind this because he is my father and a war hero. My father did not receive a bath until the day of his discharge...5 days later. He was not given the medication he has been on for years for PTSD. We as a family could not figure out why dad was showing signs of severe dementia. Could it be because he was not receiving the proper medication? At one point a nurse referred to him as a "nervous nelly." When I informed the nurses station of my fathers bowel movement, the response that I received was "Would you like us to come down to his room and celebrate?" What is going on here? My father is 84 years old and served his country as did many other young men of the Greatest Generation. The treatment our vets receive is abysmal at best. I am at the point of taking matters into my own hands.

    June 30, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
  45. randy james

    Kyra, why not ask the Senator to describe specifically where he goes to get his government paid healthcare? Question 2: Why not simply include our veterans in the same plan that members of Congress receive?

    Question 3: Can the Senator provide one reason why this change should not be made immediately, without further discussion?

    July 1, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  46. Christine

    Kyra, I was digusted by Kit Bond's response to your interview. He knows the issues of instrument sanitation has to do with the the corrupt management that all of the VA's in Missouri. I worked at one of them and managment does as it pleases and gets away with it. If they would address the problem at the management level things would change. I have heard how incompetent the employees are at the VA for years. Well, someone keeps hiring them wouldn't you think management plays a role in this?

    July 1, 2010 at 9:31 am |
  47. randy james

    To Dennis McPherson: Your story is infuriating to hear, particularly because I have read so many others like it. When one considers the number of Americans who have given their lives for their country in 234 years, we can do nothing of substance to thank them for their service. The only thing we can do materially to honor them is to provide the best possible care to those who took the same risks, and survived. I am afraid I will not live long enough to see this disgraceful status-quo changed.

    July 1, 2010 at 9:33 am |
  48. Richard

    This does not amaze me at all.
    I've been trying to get the powers-to-be to understand the VA is nothing more than a third-rate healthcare system.
    I've a combat-wounded Veteran, and I avoided the VA for 30 years after the crappy practice I saw when I came back. Then I heard they were pumping all this funding into the system and revamping it. I gave it a second chance. They may have poured billions into it but it's the same sorry mess it has always been. It just looks a little prettier.
    I can no longer afford health insurance, so I have to look for alternatives. I have a pinched nerve in my leg that is ruining my knee and everything south of it. FOUR TIMES I've had the VA doctors look at it, and mis-diagnose it and treat it the wrong way. I've been in absolutely FILTHY examination rooms, I've had nurses perform blood draws from me who don't follow protocols, I've witness a Veteran die in an outpatient because normal hospital protocols for respiratory distress weren't followed and medical staff at check-in didn't triage him correctly. I had a patient Ombudsman tell me all would be well, yet when I asked him if he knew what HIPPA was, he had never heard of it. I've had staff misplace my families records, staff who couldn't even spell the simplest of words. And did I mention, they lost a third of my medical records? There is more; I invite CNN to contact me. I can provide you with an unbelievable list; and I'm just one Veteran.
    I've contacted my Senators. Their staff just blow you off if you are over certain age or generation, and that includes Franken's and Klobuchar's office. They actually believe the VA system is a good system (it makes for great soundbytes on the campaign trail.)
    The VA system is a sinkhole for funding. The staff are federal employees, and no matter how bad they perform, they and their employer know, they can't be sued. And they certainly can't be fired.
    There is an alternative. Give Veterans, especially combat-wounded Veterans a medical card that can be used at any facility of our choosing. Since everyone is so thankful for our service, why can't we be allowed the at least the same quality of healthcare as the general public; or better yet, why not the same level of healthcare that congress and all the federal employees receive? Simple questions. We served all the citizens of this country. Why should be be punished by being dumped into a healthcare system that has a culture, a mentality, and level of quality where mediocrity is many levels higher?
    I tell every recruit I meet, to not enlist. Why? This nation chews up its military, spits them out and hopes they die a quiet, unnoticed and inexpensive death.

    July 1, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  49. Frank Hoffer

    Kyra, I just watched your coverage about the latest problem at the VA hospital in Mo. Thank you for caring! Our Attorneys just filed a Federal Law suit against a VA Hospital for the "Wrongful Death" of my son. His care could only be called disgusting.

    July 1, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  50. Rick

    Krya, I would like to share my story with you. A few years ago I was admitted into the VA hospital in Tampa. While I was there I observed terrible things. Each morning I would find dirty bandages discarded by patients all over the floor of the shower. A gentleman ran his chair into the corner of a wall and was bleeding all over the floor. It took almost 30 minutes before anyone came to his aid. I myself left the place with a broken toe which they did nothing about. I strongly complained to the director of the hospital and nothing happened. I also complained to the Veterans Administration and nothing happened. I had not thinking when I was there. I had my cell phone and I should have taken pictures, that would have done the trick. BTW thank you so much for reporting on the problemes us vets face on a daily basis when dealing with the VA. I now live in MI and the clinic that I go to is so understaffed its terrible. Its so bad that I try to go as little as possible. I have a private doctor that I see close to home and she takes excellent care of me. Thanks again for your work. Rick

    July 1, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  51. Maggie

    I use to work at the VA, I have heard some horrible stories about incidents at the VA hospital. If I were a veteran and I had private insurance, I would not even go near a VA not even for a bandage. I understand some people don't have insurance they have no choice. My advice is if I have insurance i would not even think about going to the VA hospital . I am sorry I seen and heard thing with my ownb ears and eyes.

    July 1, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  52. Brittney Dove

    How sick is this?

    July 1, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  53. Proud to be a VA NURSE

    I have been an RN for over 30 years, more than 20 in the VA Health Care System. I have worked in major University/Academic/Teaching and, Private Sector hospitals and found that the VA provides the BEST CARE ANYWHERE. I love my job and the work I do for our Veterans. The VA Healthcare System is the largest Health Care System in the world. and the staff are dedicated to provide our Veterans the care they need and deserve.
    Unfortunately things happen. They happen in the "Best" hospitals. However, the VA immediately discloses to paients and moves to corrects deffciencies where the private sector may not..
    Again, I am proud to provide THE BST CARE ANYWHERE to America's Veterans!

    July 1, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  54. Judith

    While I realize the VA system is not perfect, the bashing you keep giving it is WRONG!!!!

    As a woman veteran who gets all her care at VA<C Providence, RI, you NEED to be more balanced in you coverage. The VA here in RI is the BEST care in this sorry state.

    I agree there are many VA Centers that need help, but not all are bad and you make it seem like it is, why don't you talk to some of us who are well cared for instead of just bashing. The whole medical community in this county is in the crapper, why don't you report more on some of that???
    You also should get your facts straight, you don't always tell the truth my dear and I watch you every day just to see how badly you twist it and turn it.

    July 2, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  55. Terri Odom

    I am one of the 1812 veterans in St. Louis who was exposed to Hep B hep C and HIV. I am so sick of the VA saying low risk???? NO MORE ADJectives PLEASE!!! We were exposed. Unacceptable!! And lets me honest how many vets out of the 1812 does the St. Louis VA already know are infected?? Or their would be zero risk for all of us. There is something weird going on. LIES!!

    July 4, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
  56. Caroll

    I receive care at the VA in Florida, but not dental care.

    I recently found out that I had a positive Hep C test result in my VA records from January 2008. I had always been told that if anything was wrong during any testing that I would be notified and otherwise to consider all test results normal. I don't always even know what tests are being run when I'm sick, so it's not something I had felt the need to follow carefully. I don't know when/where/how I was exposed, but I recently read that veterans have a dramatically higher rate of Hep C than the general population, so that makes one wonder.

    This result was found now due to a recent positive test for the antibody. My doctor now told me of both positive results, but she did not understand that the result in the initial test only can measure the virus at higher levels. She did have guidance, apparently in a procedural manual or something, to order a follow-on test. That's done secondarily when a positive test result on the first test shows exposure to the antibody, but when the viral load is shown to be less than the lowest limit measurable by the first, less expensive test. The detailed test showed that I don't have the active virus in my system, so cannot pass it. But after the first test, she was talking about reporting it to the local health dept. I guess I was in the lucky few whose bodies fight off the virus and the active virus doesn't stay in their system, but I found it strange that my primary care doctor didn't comprehend that the first test result she was looking at didn't necessarily mean I had the active virus, and that in her description having it at all was likely from sexual contact–highly unlikely for people in steady relationships and by some considered not possible without other means of it being transmitted in that relationship, like blood exposure etc. She also did not know what a logarthmic expression of viral load was to compare the 2008 with the 2010 result. I found that on the internet. She had also told me (when she was convinced I had the active virus based on the first test result) that treatment was optional and she would refer me to someone in the system if I wanted to pursue it. I can't conceive of why anyone with the active virus who would not be interested in pursuing treatment. I don't expect primary doctors to know everything about every illness, but I would think that they should understand what the tests being conducted actually measure and how to interpret the results. They should at least do some internet research on things they don't know a lot about. A patient shouldn't have to go to the NIH, Mayo Clinic or other reputable medical websites to get accurate information. And the VA should have some procedural mechanism to make sure any test results showing irregularities are conveyed to the patient.

    July 5, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  57. V. L. Chris Christianson

    I am a Vet from Kingman AZ and have treeted at the local clinice the last 6 years. For the last 4 yhears I've told my Dr.at my annual checkup in Dec. that I have passed a blood clot in my urine 1 or 2 times a year. I was told my urine test was normal, this past check up in December 12th The Dr. was to put in for a appointment for a urolagist and I would have to go to Phoenix and it would take 3 to 4 months, He also said that I could call Neveada V A and could get in sooner. I called them and had a appointment on the 12th of Jan. within a month I had blood work, a ultrasound and a bone scan,the found a mass in my left Kidney and in march it was removed and was full og canser. I still have not heard from the Northern AZ V A. I wrote to Senators McCain & Kyle wanting to know why it takes so long for the AZ V A. McCain sent a letter that he needed my permmision to look into it. I sent him my permmison and what had happened. I recived a letter that he had got in toch with thw Northern AZ V A and would let me know when he heard from them. To Date nothing and Kyle never even botherd to answer. When you call the local clinice they DO NOT answer the phone you are told by automated voice (all or oporators are busy leav your name and number we will get back with you) They never have I have to go down to the clinic. Why is the Neveada so good and Az so poor. I can call Neveada and get to talk to a person.
    Chris Christianson

    July 5, 2010 at 10:16 am |
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